Professor Irene Oi-Lin Ng is the Chair Professor of Pathology in The University of Hong Kong. She has made invaluable contributions to the advancement in the field of liver cancer, one of the most prevalent cancers in Southeast Asia, Mainland China and Hong Kong. Ng’s work aims to better elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying liver cancer,or more specifically, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Much research is needed in the area because these cancers are often discovered at the late stage and they often recur even after treatment.
To date, Ng’s work has focussed on cellular markers that are found in tumour initiating cells (T-ICs) which are key cells within the tumour that cause growth and relapse of the tumour. Her team has also discovered a phytochemical (chemical produced by plants) capable of reducing the ability of HCC cells to renew themselves. More progress has been made also in uncovering a signaling pathway important in causing the cancer to invade healthy tissue and in establishing itself and thus causing disease. This pathway involves kinases and phosphatases called DLC/Rho/ROCK. Ng is an international leader in research into these proteins.
Ng obtained her MBBS, MD and PhD at The University of Hong Kong (HKU). She has worked as a clinical pathologist, Lecturer and Associate Professor in HKU and took on her most recent appointment as Chair Professor of Pathology at HKU in 2009. In addition, she is the Director of the State Key Laboratory for Liver Research at HKU. She is also a Founding Fellow of the Hong Kong College of Pathologists and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists (UK).
Significantly, this is the second time that Ng has been selected for an award in the medical category of the Croucher Senior Research Fellowship Scheme. This achievement is a tribute to her exceptional research output in recent years, with several important contributions since her last award in 2005.