Assistant Professor Christine Cheung

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Assistant Professor Christine Cheung, PhD
Nanyang Assistant Professor
Email: ccheung@ntu.edu.sg
Principal Investigator, Molecular and Vascular Medicine
Lab website: www.cheung-lab.com

 

Laboratory Staff
  • Dr Wu Kanxing, Research Fellow
  • Dr Shuba Krishnan, Research Fellow
  • Ms Florence Chioh, Research Assistant
  • Ms Natalie Yeo Jia Ying, PhD Student
  • Mr Clive Henry Cole Sims, PhD Student

 

Introduction

Dr Christine Cheung is an Assistant Professor in Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University, and an awardee of the 2016 Nanyang Assistant Professorship. She received a PhD in Cardiovascular and Stem Cell Medicine from the University of Cambridge, and a BEng (First Class) from Imperial College London. Upon securing the competitive Independent Fellowship in 2012, she started up a research group at the A*STAR Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, where she currently holds a joint appointment. To further her work, Dr Cheung received the Career Development Award and Young Investigator Grant from the Agency of Science, Technology and Research. For her pioneering approach to create organ-specific blood vessels, she was recognised with the Young Investigator Prize from the British Society for Cardiovascular Research. She is part of the founding team of Biotech Connection Singapore, an organisation that aims to promote life-science innovations and entrepreneurship by fostering interaction between academia and industry.

 

Research Focus

The crux of many diseases lies in the blood vessels. Even though vascular damage often precedes neuronal deficits in certain brain disorders, relatively less attention has been paid to blood vessel pathology in the context of mental health. Our goal is to advance the prevention of cerebrovascular complications by understanding how they affect conditions such as stroke and vascular dementia. The main thrusts of our research are:
Vascular Disease Biomarkers
There remain significant knowledge gaps in the functional interpretation of clinical biomarkers in whether they are causal or a consequence in the disease process. Leveraging on our collaborations with clinicians, we develop biomarkers of key vascular processes related to stroke and cognitive impairment. Deep-dive elucidation of such molecular signatures will enable us to unravel implicated pathways, and achieve better diagnostics for early intervention.
Neurovascular Ageing
Blood vessels in various organs could influence differential local tissue responses despite similar genetic and systemic conditions. This may explain why diseases like cerebral amyloid angiopathy and CADASIL uniquely affect the cerebral vasculatures. We aim to interrogate the intrinsic differences of organ-specific blood vessels and determinants that predominantly impact vascular pathology in the brain.
Human Stem Cell-Based Platform
Our lab has invented techniques to grow vascular cells from human pluripotent stem cells, resembling those found in brain arteries. By employing genome editing tools and phenotypic assays, we could recapitulate the molecular and cellular changes in cerebrovascular disease. Knowledge of pathogenic mechanisms will pave the way for developing vascular-targeted strategies for neurological disorders.
 
 

 Battling Dementia

 
 
Selected Publications

1. *C Cheung, AS Bernardo, MW Trotter, RA Pedersen & S Sinha. Generation of human vascular smooth muscle subtypes provides insight into embryological origin-dependent disease susceptibility. Nature Biotechnology, 2012, 30 (2): 165-173. *Featured on cover page and expert commentary

2. #C Cheung, AS Bernardo, RA Pedersen & #S Sinha. Directed differentiation of embryonic origin-specific vascular smooth muscle subtypes from human pluripotent stem cells. Nature Protocols, 2014, 9: 929–938. #Senior and corresponding author

3. L. Trigueros-M, J.M. Gonzalez-G, C Cheung, P Fernández, F Sánchez-Cabo et al. Embryological-origin-dependent differences in homeobox expression in adult aorta: role in regional phenotypic variability and regulation of NF-κB activity. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 2013, 33:1248-56.

4. #C Cheung, YT Goh, J Zhang, C Wu, E Guccione. Modelling cerebrovascular pathophysiology in amyloid-β metabolism using neural crest-derived smooth muscle cells. Cell Reports, 2014, 9(1):391-401. #Senior and corresponding author

5. BC Narmada, YT Goh, H Li, S Sinha, H Yu, #C Cheung. Human stem cell-derived endothelial-hepatic platform for efficacy testing of vascular-protective metabolites from nutraceuticals. Stem Cells Translational Medicine, 2016, doi: 10.5966/sctm.2016-0129. #Senior and corresponding author

6. J. Bargehr, L. Low, C. Cheung, W.G. Bernard, D. Iyer et al. Embryological origin of human smooth muscle cells influences their ability to support vasculogenesis. Stem Cells Reports, 2016 Jul; 5(7):946-59.

7. GJ Ng, AM Quek, C Cheung, TV Arumugam, RC Seet. Stroke biomarkers in clinical practice: A critical appraisal. Neurochemistry International, 2017, doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2017.01.005.

8. AS Koh, B Velmurugan, F Gao, RS Tan, …, C Cheung. Value of Soluble Urokinase Plasminogen Activator Receptor Over Age as a Biomarker of Impaired Myocardial Relaxation. BMC Geriatrics, 2017 Nov. In press.