2015 Senior Medical Research Fellow: Ui-Soon Khoo

26 May 2015

Professor Ui-Soon Khoo is a renowned physician scientist known for her expertise and research experience in breast cancer, particularly in molecular genetics and pathobiology.

Khoo pioneered the study of breast cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, in Chinese breast and ovarian cancer patients. Her research projects led to novel findings on genetic susceptibility to breast cancer and potential molecular targets predicting response. Besides, Khoo seeks to explain why some breast cancers are resistant to tamoxifen. Tamoxifen is a selective estrogen receptor (ER) modulator for treating ER-positive breast cancer. However, almost half of these patients develop resistance to tamoxifen treatment over time. Khoo’s major contributions include the identification of a novel alternatively spliced variant BQ to the NCOR2 gene which is associated with development of tamoxifen resistance. Her current research encompasses the development and characterisation of a monoclonal antibody to this novel BQ variant which will be used for in vitro and in vivo studies to confirm the role of BQ in the development of tamoxifen resistance, elucidation of underlying mechanisms and its application as a biomarker for tamoxifen resistance prediction. Khoo plans to use the period of her Senior Medical Research Fellowship to continue working out the detailed mechanism of tamoxifen resistance, opening new doors to the discovery of potential breast cancer treatments.

The Croucher Senior Medical Research Fellowships are the medical equivalent of the Senior Research Fellowships. Croucher Senior Research Fellowships are prestigious awards supporting mid-career scientists in Hong Kong universities who wish to spend more time on research, and less time on their heavy teaching and administrative commitments. In selecting the awardees for the Senior Research Fellowships the Croucher Foundation Trustees were assisted by a group of eminent scientists from nine countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, UK and the USA. All candidates in this exercise went through a stringent process of assessment and selection, and are Hong Kong scientists internationally recognized to be at the forefront of their respective fields.

Khoo obtained her medical degree from University College Galway, Ireland before joining the University of Hong Kong where she completed her postgraduate pathology specialist training and a higher doctorate in research. Khoo is also actively involved in teaching. She was awarded the Faculty Teaching Medal by the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine at HKU in 2007. She is currently a Clinical Professor at the Department of Pathology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine at HKU. As of mid-May 2015, Khoo has 99 publications with a total of 1,758 citations. She has been awarded a Croucher Senior Medical Research Fellowship in 2015.

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