Who is she?
Professor Sok Ching Cheong is the Head of Translational Cancer Biology at Cancer Research Malaysia (CRMY), and a Professor at University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. She trained in molecular biology and has worked in the field of oral cancer for 19 years. Her research centres on identifying and understanding the role of key drivers in the development of head and neck cancers (HNSCC). Professor Cheong is also a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia as well as a Fellow of the International Academy of Oral Oncology (IAOO).
She is particularly passionate about the development of young scientists and has implemented programmes to promote the growth of young scientists globally in her capacity as the co-chair of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) Young Affiliate Network (TYAN).
So, what’s the award for?
The International Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathologists (IAOP) President’s Prize is awarded to encourage excellence in the science and practice of oral pathology. This internationally recognised award signifies the hard work that has been done by our Malaysian scientists at CRMY, under the leadership of Professor Cheong.
“As many young Malaysian scientists were, and continue to be, pivotal in the discoveries and translational work that is being done in Cancer Research Malaysia, this award is an acknowledgement of their hard work and dedication as much as it is mine,” a statement from Professor Cheong in regards to her amazing team.
Our researchers at CRMY are working on finding more effective treatments for cancers that are more common in Asians, specifically those that have limited treatment options and are usually not at the top of most pharmaceutical companies priority lists. Therefore, Professor Cheong believes that if improvements in the therapies for oral cancer are to be seen, the work has to be done here in Malaysia and in Asia, where oral cancer is more prevalent.
Thus far, her team has accomplished the 1st Buatan Malaysia oral cancer vaccine, drug repurposing for oral cancer treatment, and identifying genes that cause oral cancer using CRISPR/Cas-9 technology. A particular development they are proud of is the development of a mobile phone app (MeMoSA®) that enables specialists to give referral decisions remotely to patients who are located in places where travel may not be the easiest to avoid delay in diagnosis. And in more recent times, the app allows for patients to continue their care, with the COVID-19 pandemic making it difficult for in-person clinic visits.
Just a little more about Prof Cheong
Professor Cheong is a mother of two and well known to her friends and colleagues as someone who is passionate, loyal, and fearless – as evidenced in the photo above when she shaved her head in solidarity of cancer patients and volunteers raising funds for “Bald and Beautiful 3”.
She’s often asked how she’s been able to carry on with her work through all the resource challenges and other hardships that have allowed her to reach such heights. She stated,
“whilst it can be quite daunting to think about how much more we need to do, my strength comes from how much we have achieved thus far, despite the limited resources. I am especially inspired by cancer patients, who even in their darkest hours, still find the strength to participate in our research. And lastly, it warms my heart whenever I hear about people who help with our cause in any way they can, particularly by raising funds to support the work that we do.”
It is important to know that Malaysians can achieve internationally significant work, particularly in research that can impact our society and inspire more Malaysians. We depend on your donations to ensure the fight against cancer doesn’t miss Asians – especially Malaysians. If you’re an individual, join our campaign for sustainable funding; it only takes RM10/month, or if you’re a company, RM100/month to make a difference for Asian cancer patients.