Dr. Yvonne Lim Ai Lian is a senior professor at the Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya (UM), Kuala Lumpur and a council member of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia. Currently, she is the Director of International Relations Office (IRO), Universiti Malaya and serves on the University Senate. She was the former Deputy Dean (Research) of Faculty of Medicine, UM and the past president of the Malaysian Society of Parasitology and Tropical Medicine (MSPTM).
Her research focuses on host-parasite interactions and the epidemiology and control of neglected tropical diseases primarily among the indigenous communities. Her work has been funded by various national and international grants (eg. US NIH grant). In her pursuit to better understand and control these diseases, her team has developed and evaluated effective (in terms of time and cost) solutions, such as multi-hits health education packages, rapid molecular diagnostics and provision of spatial distribution maps using geographic information system (GIS). In recent years, there is also a growing interest that some parasites such as helminths (worms) may in fact play a role in the future treatment of inflammatory diseases. Using multidisciplinary approaches and bioinformatics analysis, her team’s landmark publication in Science with collaborators from New York University unravelled the mechanisms of how low levels of helminth infection promote growth of probiotic gut microbiota which may lead to the discovery of potential biomarkers and novel interventional strategies towards utilising helminths as a therapeutic approach. Currently, together with researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA, her team is further elucidating the role of gut microbiota-helminth association with nutritional status and inflammatory responses. Her team has also expanded the gut microbiota work to other cohorts of patients such as HIV and cancer patients.
She has published more than 208 scientific papers, 9 book chapters and 3 books. She has supervised 14 PhD and 13 MSc to completion. She also has a vast network of local and international partnerships. She was a visiting researcher at the Scottish Parasite Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory (formerly SPDL), Glasgow, Scotland; a visiting fellow at the Department of Veterinary Science, University of Melbourne, Australia and was appointed a visiting professor at the Department of Molecular Parasitology and Tropical Diseases, Taipei Medical University, Taiwan. She was a temporary advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) meeting for the schistosomiasis & soil-transmitted helminthiases data platform which resulted in her current involvement as the International Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) in the Infectious Diseases Data Observatory (IDDO) Schistosomiasis and Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis Data Treatment Platform. She is also involved in the formulation of the National Policy for the Development of Orang Asli (Indigenous) with the Department of Orang Asli Development (JAKOA), Malaysia. Recently, she was selected to participate in the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Asia-Pacific Women in Leadership (APWiL) Mentoring Programme.
Dr. Yvonne Lim is a panel member of evaluators for various national and international research grant schemes. She has also been an external examiner of PhD theses from University of Copenhagen, Denmark and Murdoch University, Australia. She has received numerous awards and recognitions, among which were the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (RSTMH) Centenary Scholarship, Malaysian Society of Parasitology and Tropical Medicine Medal for being an outstanding young scientist, the Universiti Malaya Excellence Award for outstanding achievement in the category of Excellent Lecturer (for Sciences) and the Top Research Scientists Malaysia (TRSM) Award. She was also awarded the Malaysian Society of Parasitology and Tropical Medicine Life Membership and was appointed a fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia. She was featured as one of the 10 Science Stars of East Asia in Nature and more recently cited in a study by Stanford University as one of the top 2% scientists for the year 2019.