Rob van Dam

Adjunct Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology

Department of Nutrition

Department of Epidemiology

665 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115

Research Interests

Dr. van Dam conducts research into the role of diet in the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases with a particular interest in Asian diets. The ultimate goal of his research is to identify opportunities for the prevention of these chronic conditions though dietary changes. His research is based on large-scale cohort studies, dietary intervention studies, and meta-analyses. Current research concerns the integration of data on dietary intakes and biochemical markers to identify dietary factors that affect the development of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. He also conducts research to obtain a better understanding of the role of the physical, social and cultural environment in shaping dietary habits for the development of more effective interventions for the prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Current Research Projects

Dietary patterns and dietary components in relation to risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases

This research program aims to elucidate the role of diet in the etiology of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Thus far, Dr. van Dam has conducted studies on the role of vitamin D, calcium and dairy, coffee and its components, dietary fat and meat consumption, intake of flavonoids, breakfast consumption and meal frequency, and dietary patterns. In the US, he is currently involved in an NIH-funded study on dietary polyphenols, urinary biomarkers, and risk of type 2 diabetes based on the Nurses’ Health Study. In Singapore, he conducts a study on dietary fatty acids, oxilipins (fatty acid derived signalling molecules), inflammation and risk of coronary heart disease in the Singapore Chinese Health Study. He is particularly interested in the role of Asian diets, because the variation in foods and food components is markedly different from more widely studied American and European populations.

Behavioral and genetic determinants of dietary habits and the development of obesity

Genetic studies of determinants of dietary habits include genome-wide association studies of caffeine intake, taste-based food preferences, and eating styles. Dr. van Dam is also interested in the behavioral determinants (e.g. cultural factors, neighborhood environment) of dietary habits and the development of obesity. This research is part of the National University of Singapore Global Asia Institute project for the prevention of type 2 diabetes that is a collaboration with HSPH. The goal of these research projects is a more complete understanding of determinants of eating habits to develop effective interventions for the prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Selected Professional Affiliations

Associate Professor, Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health and Department of Medicine, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore

Associate Editor, Emerging Themes in Epidemiology

Member of the Editorial Board of ‘Journal of Obesity’ and ‘World Journal of Diabetes’


PhD Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Medical School
MSc Wageningen University