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Engineering CELLS,
   Engineering RESPONSES

PHD STUDENTS

Abigail Tan

Research Group: Stem Cell
abigail_tan_from.tp@bti.a-star.edu.sg

Research Project & Research Interest:

Comparative Oncology (CO) has provided many insights into cancer biology in recent years. Companion animals such as canines and felines are of special interest compared to other laboratory organisms, like the mice, when it comes to studying human cancers. This is because these companion animals are living similar lifestyles as humans and cancer occur spontaneously in these animals, just like in humans. My project aims to utilize canine and feline mAbs generated in our lab, to identify and characterise potential targets in both companion animals and human cancers.

Cagla Sarimaden

Research Group: Microbial Cells
cagla_sarimaden_from.tp@bti.a-star.edu.sg

Research Project & Research Interest:

In recent years, there is a growing trend of eating functional foods all over the world. Consumers and professionals are increasingly accepting food with a preventive approach to disease. Therefore, the awareness and popularity of probiotics are rising rapidly and becoming a common phenomenon globally. The increasing awareness of probiotics effect is raised to demand scientific and commercial research in probiotics. As defined by the FAO/ WHO, probiotics are “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”. Sufficient amount of viable probiotics level is necessary for their efficacy. However, many factors can decrease the population of probiotics, such as temperature, high-acidic environment. Therefore, there is a need for enhancing the stability of LAB and probiotics in dairy products during shelf life. Recent studies draw attention to the use of yeast cells and microencapsulation method to enhance the stability and survivability of probiotics in foods. The aim of my PhD project is to improve the viability and bioavailability of a probiotic microorganism microencapsulated in probiotic-based foods by understanding the microstructural properties and interactions between probiotic bacteria and the probiotic-based food products matrices and the molecular mechanism of interaction between yeasts and probiotic cells.

Edward Pallister

Research Group: Analytics
edward_pallister@bti.a-star.edu.sg

Research Project & Research Interest:

My PhD project is a collaboration with Professor Sabine Flitsch’s group at the University of Manchester UK and Analytics group here at BTI. The aim of the project is to use a combination of the MS techniques and expertise available in the analytics group to assess activity of both known and unknown glycosyltransferases enzymes. Most specifically we will be looking at how different glycosyltransferase enzymes can remodel the glycans of glycoproteins.

Guan Di

Research Group: Immunology
guan_di@bti.a-star.edu.sg

Research Project & Research Interest:

Bruton’s tyrosine kinase is a member of the TEC family of non-receptor kinases, expressed in various cells of hematopoietic origin. It is involved in signaling pathways downstream of pre-B cell receptor, B cell receptor, chemokine receptor and pattern recognition receptor. Loss of function mutations of the BTK gene is known to cause a human immune disorder X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA). Recently, a study of patients with XLA suggests a link between BTK deficiency and susceptibility to gut inflammatory conditions. My PhD project aims to use a mouse model of acute colitis to investigate the role of BTK in regulating gut immune homeostasis and inflammation. This will provide information relevant to not only XLA affected subjects, but also lymphoma patients who undergo BTK inhibitor treatment.

Leonard Leong

Research Group: Stem Cell
leonard_leong@bti.a-star.edu.sg

Research Project & Research Interest:

Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) are engineered lymphocyte constructs that have shown efficacy in clinical trials for the clearance of tumour cells. They allow the engineered lymphocytes to specifically recognise and target tumour cells for destruction. My project aims to utilise the monoclonal antibodies generated in our lab, and explore their potential efficacy in the CAR format, assessing the feasibility of converting our lab’s glycan antibodies into CARs.

Linus Lim

Research Group: Animal Cell Technology
linus_lim@bti.a-star.edu.sg

Research Project & Research Interest:

Dectin-1 is a transmembrane lectin receptor that recognizes β-glucans at its extracellular region. It is a pattern recognition receptor expressed in cell types of the innate immune system like macrophages, monocytes and neutrophils. It functions by binding to cell walls of different fungal species, triggering intracellular responses like phagocytosis and cytokine production. The absence of β-glucans in human cells presents the opportunity to exploit Dectin-1 as therapeutic vehicle to enhance immune response during a fungal infection or as a targeting protein for antifungal drugs. My project explores the development of Dectin-1 antifungal conjugates as protein-drugs or fusion proteins and their efficacy in neutralising various species of fungus.

Yeo Hock Chuan

Research Group: Bioinformatics
yeo_hock_chuan@bti.a-star.edu.sg

Research Project & Research Interest:

My research interest and specialty is in applying integrative ‘omics’ analysis for biological knowledge discovery. To ensure productive and fruitful outcomes, I exploit context-specific biological knowledge and yet take a ‘helicopter’ perspective (systems biology) of interesting problems. A biologist at heart, I am excited by challenges in systems biotechnology and embryonic stem cells research. I also develop bioinformatics tools opportunistically to enable core research programs in my institute.

Wang Zixi

Research Group: Immunology
wang_zixi@bti.a-star.edu.sg

Research Project & Research Interest:

Multiple myeloma (MM) is a currently incurable malignancy of plasma cells. These cells are heavily dependent on the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment for their survival. B-Cell Activating Factor (BAFF) is one component of BM microenvironment, which is essential for the survival and proliferation of MM cells. BAFF can bind to three receptors: Transmembrane Activator and Calcium Modulator and Cyclophilin ligand Interactor (TACI), B-cell Maturation Antigen (BCMA) and the BAFF receptor (BAFF-R). Among them, TACI is the primary receptor of bone marrow BAFF signalling, and is a vital factor in the pathogenesis of early-stage BM-dependent MM.

My project aim to generate antibodies against TACI using in-vitro and in-vivo MM mice models. These antibodies might have potential benefit for the treatment of MM.