Hwei Ee TAN

Lab Location: Clinical Sciences Building @ Novena  
Email: Tan_Hwei_Ee@imcb.a-star.edu.sg / hweiee.tan@ntu.edu.sg

Hwei Ee Tan studied molecular and cell biology at University of California – Berkeley. After further research stints at Osaka University and A*STAR, he then did his PhD with Charles Zuker at the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behaviour Institute in Columbia University, where he made landmark discoveries on the neural basis of sugar and fat cravings. In 2020, his widely highlighted publication in Nature uncovered an essential vagal gut-brain circuit underlying sugar’s highly appetitive effects, and provides an explanation as to why simply activating the sweet senses on the tongue (as artificial sweeteners do) fail to substitute for our sugar craving.

Hwei Ee received the A*STAR National Science Scholarships (Singapore), UC Berkeley Dean’s Honor (US), JASSO Scholarship (Japan), Columbia University Dean’s Fellowship (US), and the NTU LKC Medicine – Imperial College Fellowship (Singapore). He joined A*STAR Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology as Junior Investigator, and through a joint appointment at NTU LKC Medicine (Novena), he is establishing a use-inspired basic research program in gut-brain neurobiology.

His lab investigates the basic biology of how food (diet) impacts our health and behaviour via the microbiome-gut-brain axis. He is also establishing an in vivo mammalian gut-brain screening platform for discovering new drugs that can modulate brain health via the gut-brain axis. Through future upstream clinical collaborations, he aims to translate epidemiological associations (particularly of understudied Asian genetics, microbiome, diet) into an understanding of the causal mechanisms. Downstream collaborations may spin-off novel gut-brain therapeutics and inform personalised dietary interventions.

In addition to research, Hwei Ee is also dedicated to teaching and mentoring students. He has actively mentored over many undergraduates on diverse projects ranging from engineering, molecular, cellular, and systems biology. He has also taught lectures for the Molecular Neurobiology and Developmental & Systems Neuroscience courses at Columbia University. He continues to welcome motivated students/ interns.