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Deputy Chief Scientific Officer Cancer Research Malaysia

Professor Sok Ching Cheong

Professor Sok Ching Cheong is the Deputy Chief Scientific Officer at Cancer Research Malaysia, a not-for-profit research institute in Malaysia. Professor Cheong is a cell and molecular biologist and has spent more than 20 years working on head and neck cancer, a type of cancer that predominantly affects Asians. She has conducted one of the largest CRISPR/Cas9 functional screens, identifying critical genes that enable cancer cell to survive and grow. She has identified and studied the function cancer associated antigens, and played a key role in the development of therapeutic cancer vaccines that is poised to undergo first-in-human trials. Whilst her research has initially focused on laboratory research and novel therapeutics, Professor Cheong has more recently developed innovative tools to remotely diagnose and follow-up patients with high-risk oral lesions or oral cancer. She was a pioneer in introducing teleconsultation for these patients during the COVID19 pandemic using the MeMoSA® (Mobile Mouth Screening Anywhere) Application. Professor Cheong is currently conducting an implementing study on the use of MeMoSA® to improve access to life-saving diagnosis in low- socioeconomic communities together with the Ministry of Health, Malaysia. Notably, Professor Cheong has extended her efforts in several parts of Asia and in 2019, she led the establishment of the Asia- Pacific Oral Cancer Network (APOCNET) as a platform to share scientific and medical expertise to address the challenges of early diagnosis and treatment of oral cancer.

Professor Cheong has received grants from national and international funding bodies including the Strategic Research Fund from the Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, and those from the Medical Research Council UK including the Newton Ungku Omar Fund, the Newton Fund Impact Scheme and the Global Challenges Research Fund. She has received several national and international scientific awards including the L’Oreal for Women in Science Award, the President’s Award from the International Association for Oral Maxillofacial Pathologists, The World Academy of Science (TWAS) Medal Lecture and the ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women 2022 amongst others. Professor Cheong is a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM), the International Academy of Oral Oncology (IAOO) and the Union of International Cancer Control (UICC). She has been an Adjunct Professor at University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur since 2009 and was the 4th Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali Professorial Chair at the university. She was also a visiting Professor at the University of Khon Kaen, Thailand and Airlangga University in Indonesia.