9 June 2022
A Q&A with Dr Sabag on his career, new challenges ahead and some of the topics his team will work on in 2022 and beyond. Dr Sabag is a Research Support Program Fellow, Exercise Therapies, Age and Chronic Disease at NICM Health Research Institute. He joined the Institute in 2019 as a postdoctoral research fellow working in the area of cardiometabolic disease. His research explores the utility of high intensity exercise for improving cardiometabolic health in individuals with or at risk of cardiometabolic disease.
What drew you to complementary and integrative medicine research?
During my adolescence, I was a competitive sprinter and footballer and as a result, I was able to experience the tremendous benefits of exercise and physical activity in my day-to-day life. These experiences led me to enrol in a Bachelor of Exercise Science degree at Western Sydney University. Fast forward 12 years, and I continue to promote physical activity as a researcher and as a clinical Accredited Exercise Physiologist. In fact, I have over eight years of clinical experience using exercise to improve health in individuals with or at risk of chronic disease.
What do you love about research?
I love that research rewards curiosity and that often, this leads to tangible improvements in the lives of millions of people. There are some challenges that come with the job, but as a whole, it is immensely rewarding.
What brought you to NICM HRI?
After completing my PhD at the University of Sydney in October 2019, I was awarded the Healthy Hearts Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at NICM Health Research Institute. The fellowship allowed me to undertake clinical research in the field of cardiovascular health which is a great passion of mine.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently leading a body of research which centres on identifying optimal exercise therapies for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This includes a clinical trial investigating the effects of high-intensity functional training on PCOS symptoms as well as leading the Exercise and Sport Science Australia position statement on the role of exercise and physical activity for the management PCOS-related health outcomes.
What is your next project?
I plan to undertake research in exercise for women with gestational diabetes.
What has been the most rewarding research project in your career so far?
Delivering high-intensity interval training interventions to adults with type 2 diabetes which formed part of my PhD studies. The participants loved the intervention, and the findings were published in Diabetes Care, one of the most prestigious diabetes journals in the world.
What has been the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Make sure you land in a research group that facilitates growth, curiosity, and the ability to collaborate broadly.
What is your favourite aspect of your role?
Being able to help so many people take control of their health as well as having the opportunity to work with brilliant people on a daily basis.