The University of Macau (UM) on 24 September held the third lecture of the UM Scholar Research Forum series, as part of the celebration of its 40th anniversary. Chris, Koon Ho WONG, an associate professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences, was the keynote speaker, who gave a talk titled ‘How Do “Dormant” Fungal Babies Prepare for Their Future’ to explain his breakthrough in fungal biology recently featured on the cover of Nature Microbiology. The lecture attracted many UM faculty members and students, as well as secondary school teachers and students, who participated in the event in person or virtually.

Prof. Wong’s team has recently discovered a fascinating phenomenon that allows fungal spores to prepare for their future during their development and maturation. The finding has important implications in the understanding of fungal biology and pathogenesis as well as in the prevention of potentially deadly fungal infections. The discovery particularly holds promise for protecting immunocompromised people, such as COVID-19 patients, from these infections.

Prof. Wong’s research interests lie in understanding when and how genes are switched on and off, and his team is committed to understanding gene functions and regulatory mechanisms of fungal pathogens in different fungi that can cause fatal diseases in humans. After receiving his PhD in genetics from the University of Melbourne in 2008, Prof. Wong joined Harvard Medical School as a postdoctoral researcher and received a research grant from the Croucher Foundation in Hong Kong. He joined the Faculty of Health Sciences at UM in 2013 as an assistant professor until his promotion to associate professor in 2020.

Source: Research Services and Knowledge Transfer Office

Koon Ho WONG shares his new breakthrough in fungal biology

Vice Rector Wei GE (left), Prof. Koon Ho WONG (centre), and Research Services and Knowledge Transfer Office Director Zhixin YANG (right)