Prof Kathryn Song Eng CHEAH
Elected as Member of ASHK in 2021
BSc (Hons) (London); PhD (Cantab); Fellow, The World Academy of Sciences; Member, The Hong Kong Academy of Sciences
Chair Professor of Biochemistry
Jimmy & Emily Tang Professor in Molecular Genetics
The University of Hong Kong
Prof Cheah is a developmental biologist, Chair Professor of Biochemistry and Jimmy & Emily Tang Professor in Molecular Genetics at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). She received her PhD in molecular biology from the University of Cambridge, UK, was a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Manchester and Imperial Cancer Research Fund, UK. Since joining HKU, she has served as Head, Department of Biochemistry and Director of the Centre for Reproduction, Development and Growth. She was awarded a Croucher Foundation Senior Fellowship (2000) and is an elected Fellow of the global academy for the advancement of science in developing countries, The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS).
Her research focuses on the functional genomics and developmental genetics of skeletal and inner ear development, and the molecular pathogenesis of human congenital and degenerative skeletal disorders. She is well known for seminal contributions: the discovery of SOX2 as a gene essential for hearing; insights in the regulation and function of genes in skeletal development; that cartilage and bone cells are a lineage continuum; a causative link between cellular stress and skeletal disorders with therapeutic implication; identification of several genetic risk factors in intervertebral disc degeneration. She and her research team are currently using human and mouse embryonic stem cells and genetically modified mice as models to study development and disease and develop therapeutic approaches for disorders of cartilage (e.g. osteoarthritis) and low bone mass (e.g. osteoporosis) and intervertebral disc degeneration. In 2021 she was awarded the British Society for Matrix Biology Medal Lecture for her contributions to the field.
In addition to her research she has contributed to the development and promotion of science and technology in Hong Kong. She and her team pioneered the introduction of transgenic and knockout mouse technology to Greater China and Hong Kong. She has a long record of contributing to the public and professional understanding of science and promoting the international profile of Hong Kong science through organizing international symposia and Croucher Foundation Advanced Study Institutes. She has served as Biology & Medicine Panel member on the Research Grants Council and as panel member for all the University Grants Committee Research Assessment exercises. She is currently a panel member of the Health and Medical Research Fund.
Internationally she has served on the Editorial Boards of Matrix Biology, Annual Reviews of Genomics & Human Genetics, BioEssays and as a Guest Associate Editor for PLoS Genetics. She was Asian Editor for Development Growth & Differentiation (2015-2016) and Associate Editor of Genesis (2010-2018). Currently she serves on the Editorial Board of Journal of Orthopedic Research, as Editorial Advisor: Emerging Topics in Life Sciences, on the Advisory Board, Natural Sciences and is Senior Editor for eLife.
She was elected President of the International Society for Matrix Biology 2006-2008; the founding President of the Hong Kong Society for Developmental Biology (HKSDB) (2004-2013); Hong Kong representative for Asia-Pacific Developmental Biology Network and the International Society of Developmental Biology; appointed Senior External Fellow of the University of Freiberg Institute of Advanced Studies 2011-2012; elected member, Board of Directors of the International Society of Differentiation (2012-2018). Currently she serves on the Hong Kong Advisory Board of the Gordon Research Conferences (GRC) and the GRC Board of Trustees Conference Evaluation Committee.