HomeAboutFaculty DirectoryVAN DAM Rob Martinus

VAN DAM Rob Martinus

Prof van Dam's research is primarily focused on the dietary determinants of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. The ultimate goal is to identify opportunities for the prevention of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases particularly in the Asian context where the prevalence of these conditions is increasing rapidly. This research is mostly based on large-scale cohort studies integrating data on reported diet, dietary biomarkers, biomarkers of intermediate pathways, and genetic variation. In addition, he conducts dietary intervention studies, meta-analyses, studies of the cultural and physical environment as determinants of dietary behaviours, and contributes to lifestyle intervention programmes for the prevention of obesity and diabetes.


  • Vice Dean (Academic Affairs) and Domain Leader (Epidemiology), NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health (Primary)
  • Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences & Engineering (Joint)
  • Harvard School of Public Health (Adjunct)

Research Areas:

  • Diet in relation to risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases
  • Behavioral and genetic determinants of dietary habits

Teaching Areas:

  • Epidemiology/ Nutritional Epidemiology
  • Meta analysis and systematic reviews

Academic/Professional Qualifications:

  • MSc Nutrition and Health (1998), Wageningen University, The Netherlands
  • PhD (2003), VU Medical Centre Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Awards/Honours (Post-PhD):

  • Faculty Outstanding Researcher Award, National University of Singapore 2016
  • Young Investigator Award, Diabetes and Nutrition Group, European Association for the Study of Diabetes, 2004
  • VENI Career Development Award, Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, 2003

Career History:

  • Researcher, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, The Netherlands (1998-2002)
  • Assistant Professor, Institute for Health Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (2002-2005)
  • Research Scientist (2005-2007), Assistant Professor (2007-2009), and Adjunct Associate Professor (2013-), Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Assistant Professor, Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School (2006-2009)
  • Professor (2018-present), Associate Professor (2010-2017), Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health and Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore

Administrative Leadership:

  • Co-Director, Epidemiology and Genetics Core, Boston Obesity and Nutrition Research Center. 2006-2009
  • Director, PhD and MSc Programme, Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, NUS. 2012-2017
  • Domain Leader (Epidemiology), Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, NUS. 2012-present 
  • Vice Dean (Academic Affairs), Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, NUS, 2018-present

Professional/Consulting Activities:

  • Expert Consultation on Carbohydrates and Health, WHO/ FAO (2006)
  • Editorial Board Emerging Themes in Epidemiology (2005-), JAHA (2013-), Journal of Epidemiology (2015-); guest associate editor American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2013)
  • Scientific Planning Committee, 7th Int Conference on Diet and Activity Methods, 4th and 5th Int Conference on Polyphenols and Health

Major Publications:

  • van Dam RM, Feskens EJM. Coffee consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Lancet 2002;360:1477-8.
  • van Dam RM, Li T, Spiegelman D, Franco OH, Hu FB. Combined impact of lifestyle factors on mortality. BMJ 2008;33:a1440.
  • Li S, Shin HJ, Ding EL, van Dam RM. Adiponectin levels and risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2009;302:179-88.
  • Ferzacca S, Naidoo N, Wang MC, Reddy G, van Dam RM. "Sometimes they'll tell me what they want": Family and inter-generational food preferences in the food decisions of Singaporean women. Appetite. 2013;69:156-67.
  • Chen LW, Wu Y, Neelakantan N, Chong M, Pan A, van Dam RM. Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy is associated with risk of low birth weight: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis. BMC Med. 2014;12:174.
  • Rebello SA, Koh H, Chen C, Naidoo N, Odegaard AO, Koh WP, Butler LM, Yuan JM, van Dam RM. Amount, type, and sources of carbohydrates in relation to ischemic heart disease mortality in a Chinese population: a prospective cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100:53-64
  • Sun Q, Wedick NM, Pan A, Townsend MK, Cassidy A, Franke AA, Rimm EB, Hu FB, van Dam RM. Gut microbiota metabolites of dietary lignans and risk of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2014;37:1287-95.
  • Sun Y, Neelakantan N, Wu Y, Lote-Oke R, Pan A, van Dam RM. Palm oil consumption increases LDL cholesterol compared with vegetable oils low in saturated fat in a meta-analysis of clinical trials. J Nutr. 2015;145:1549-58.
  • Neelakantan N, Whitton C, Seah S, Koh H, Rebello SA, Lim JY, Chen S, Chan MF, Chew L, van Dam RM. Development of a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire to assess the dietary Intake of a multi-ethnic urban Asian population. Nutrients. 2016;8: E528.
  • Sun Y, Koh HW, Choi H, Koh WP, Yuan JM, Newman JW, Su J, Fang J, Ong CN, van Dam RM. Plasma fatty acids, oxylipins, and risk of myocardial infarction: the Singapore Chinese Health Study. J Lipid Res. 2016;57:1300-7.

Media Coverage:

Vice Dean (Academic Affairs) and Domain Leader (Epidemiology); Professor
Tel (65) 6516 4980
Fax (65) 6779 1489
Email rob.van.dam@nus.edu.sg


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