Faculty in the Media:

Dr Sarah Wong Pursues Her Dream at Institut Pasteur

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Dr Sarah Wong, postdoctoral fellow in Microbiomics at the Faculty of Dentistry, talked to the Faculty of Dentistry Newsletter on the eve of heading to work at the renowned Institut Pasteur, a French non-profit private foundation dedicated to the study of biology, micro-organisms, diseases, and vaccines.

Dr Wong felt excited to become a member of the Institut: “It is a great honour for me to be able to learn from the renowned scientists working there, who are the most brilliant minds from around the world”, she said.

Dr Wong’s interest mainly lies in oral microbiomics, a subject area in which her research team has conducted studies on oral microbiota of various cohorts among the population, for example the patients with voice-disorder and nasopharyngeal cancer.

Mycology study on fungal pathogen is another area that Dr Wong would like to explore further: “Aspergillus fumigatus and Candida are the two most common fungal pathogens in humans. These are air-borne and could pose immediate threats to the millions of immune compromised patients like those affected with HIV or those who received organ transplants.”

“Understanding the host-fungal interaction is essential for the development of new antifungal agents, which would help expand the currently limited arsenal of antifungals. It could be a challenge as the two pathogens share a similar pathologic mechanism and have a cell structure resembling that of the humans,” she said.

Set to begin a new life in France, Dr Wong said she was grateful to the support of the Faculty for providing both the environment and knowledge in cultivating her to be a genuine scientist.

“The dental faculty values the importance of all kinds of research, including clinical and basic science research. Our Oral Biosciences laboratory is one of the leading laboratories in Asia. I also appreciate the constant encouragement and support from the Faculty, especially my supervisors, Dr. CJ Senevirate, Prof. LP Samaranayake and Prof. LJ Jin, who encouraged me to participate in research activities and in overseas courses and exchange activities. The experience helped me to grow as a competent scientist,” she said.

Talking about the future, Dr Wong said it was likely that her research path would diverge from dentistry into other areas, but she had full confidence that everything she learned here would provide the skills to tackle the challenges ahead of her.

Dr Wong had a Bachelor degree in Science (Bioinformatics) from the University of Hong Kong in 2009, and she completed a PhD, also from HKU, in 2015.

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