November 22, 2016, by Wan Yong Ho

Biomedical Science PhD student wins ISSFAL Travel Award

Chai Boon Kheng, a graduate student in the Department of Biomedical Science, has won the ISSFAL Travel Award to present his research at the Congress of International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids, held in Stellenbosch, South Africa from 5 to 9 September 2016.

Boon Kheng wins International Travel Award to present his PhD research findings

Boon Kheng is supervised by Dr. Suresh Kumar Mohankumar of the Metabolic and Vascular Diseases Group. The laboratory of Dr Suresh is looking for safer alternatives to replace conventional treatments for Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Currently, the laboratory is interested in using a family of fatty acids known as conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) as the substitute to replace the insulin sensitizing drug known as rosiglitazone.


Using Sprague-Dawley rats fed high fat diet for 12 weeks and treated for the last four weeks with CLA mixture and rosliglitazone, Mr Boon Kheng found that concurrent administration of CLA mixture and rosiglitazone increases the risk of atherosclerosis by raising non-HDL and non-HDL:HDL ratio. The increase in non-HDL is accompanied by decreased relaxation of the blood vessels in the endothelium-free state.

ISSFAL travel award 2

Boon Kheng experimenting on rat model in the laboratory

‘We have found that despite the inclusion of LDL in the non-HDL fraction of cholesterol, both are not equivalent. While LDL has been the standard for predicting atherosclerosis and cardiovascular risk, non-HDL is gaining relevance as it better predicts cardiovascular risks. Our result also suggests that retaining the function of endothelium, cells lining the inner surface of blood vessels, may be key to preventing cardiovascular complications in diabetes,’ Boon Kheng stated.

Dr Suresh Kumar Mohankumar presented the findings on his behalf at the ISSFAL Congress at Stellenbosch. The research is funded by the Ministry of Higher Education Fundamental Research Grant Scheme and University of Nottingham.

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