Department of Surgery, CUHK

Professor WONG Nathalie    

BSc.(London), DPhil.(Oxon)

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Prof. Nathalie Wong's research focuses on the genomics and tumor biology of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC; also often known as liver cancer). HCC is a highly aggressive and commonly fatal cancer that is prevalent in Hong Kong, mainland China and SE Asia. Professor Wong's group has previously defined the cytogenetic pattern of HCC and conducted the first systematic analysis for consistent genomic and structural changes in the tumor development. The advent of next generation sequencing has led to their identification of spatial and temporal clonal heterogeneity modes of HCC that underscore its evolutionary paths. In developing experimental models, a series of 14 HCC cell lines from local Chinese patients, who underwent curative surgery for HCC at the Dept. of Surgery, had been developed by her group. More recently, Prof. Wong and her team have begun to establish three-dimensional culture system of patient-derived organoids from primary HCC, colorectal cancer, glioblastoma and soft tissue sarcomas. These ex-vivo models are vital to studies on functional biology and new drug developments in contemporary oncology research.

Research Interests

  • Genomic and transcriptomic landscapes of HCC, and somatic events underlying the malignant transformation from liver cirrhosis
  • Functional characterization of somatic variants for cancer-causing effects
  • Tumor-intrinsic oncogene pathways in mediating immune suppression in HCC
  • SMRT sequencing for alternative spliced variants and activated cancer signaling pathways
  • Utilization of patient-derived HCC organoids in studies of tumor biology by CRISPR/cas9 gene editing and evaluation of novel therapeutic compounds.

Additional Information


  • Principal investigator, State Key Laboratory in Oncology in South China
  • Principal investigator, State Key Laboratory of Digestive Disease
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Pathology
  • Panel Member, Research Assessment Exercise 2014 and 2020 - Health Sciences Panel, Hong Kong Research Grants Council
  • Panel Member, General Research Fund (GRF) and Early Career Scheme (ECS) - Biology and Medicine Panel, Hong Kong Research Grants Council (2013-2018)
  • Panel Member, National Natural Science Foundation of China/Research Grants Council Joint Research Scheme - Biology and Medicine Panel, Hong Kong Research Grants Council (2012 and 2015)
Ongoing Grants:
  • Project Coordinator: Nathalie Wong
    Hong Kong Research Grants Council - Area of Excellence Scheme (2021-2029)
    Project Title: Centre for Medical Engineering of Molecular and Biological Probes (HK$71,161,000)
  • Project Coordinator: Nathalie Wong
    Hong Kong Research Grants Council - Research Impact Fund (2019-2024)
    Project Title: Patient-Derived Preclinical Models for Translational Cancer Research (HK$14,000,000)
  • Co-Principal Investigator: Nathalie Wong
    US National Institutes of Health R01 (2019-2024)
    Project Title: qHTS of Patient Derived HCC Models to Identify Novel Probes/Therapeutic Agents (US$1,662,390)
  • Project Coordinator: Nathalie Wong
    Innovation and Technology Fund - Partnership Research Programme (2022-2024)
    Project Title: Clinical Translation of ent-Kaurane Diterpenoids and Structural Analogues through Candidate Selectivity in Preclinical Patient-derived Liver Cancer and Normal Hepatocyte Organoids (HK$964,100)

Selected Publications

  1. Ding XF, He M, Chan AW, Song QX, Sze SC, Chen H, Man MK, Man K, Chan S, Lai P, Wang X, Wong N*. Genomic and epigenomic features of primary and recurrent hepatocellular carcinomas. Gastroenterology 2019; 157:1630-1645
  2. Chen H, Gao F, He M, Ding XF, Wong AM, Sze S, Yu A, Sun T, Chan AW, Wang X*, Wong N*. Long-read RNA sequencing identifies novel splice variants in hepatocellular carcinoma and tumor-specific isoforms. Hepatology. 2019; 70:1011-1025
  3. Lau CC, Sun TT, Ching AK, He M, Li JW, Wong AM, Co NN, Chan AW, Li PS, Lung RW, Tong JH, Lai PB, Chan HL, To KF, Chan TF, Wong N*. Viral-human chimeric transcript predisposes risk to liver cancer development and progression. Cancer Cell. 2014; 25:335-49.
  4. Law PT, Qin H, Ching AK, Lai KP, Co NN, He M, Lung RW, Chan AW, Chan TF, Wong N*. Deep sequencing of small RNA reveals novel non-coding RNAs in HCC. J Hepatol 2013; 58:1165-73
  5. Chung KY, Cheng IK, Ching AK, Chu JH, Lai PB, Wong N*. BOP1 plays an oncogenic role in HCC by promoting epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Hepatology 2011; 54:307-18
  6. Wong Q, Lung R, Law P, Lai PB, Chan K, To KF, Wong N*. MicroRNA-223 is commonly repressed in HCC and potentiates expression of Stathmin1. Gastroenterology 2008, 135:257-69
  7. Gho J, Ip WK, Chan KY, Lai PB, To KF, Wong N*. Re-expression of transcription factor ATF5 in hepatocellular carcinoma induces G2/M arrest. Cancer Research 2008, 68:6743-6751
  8. Pang EY, Bai AH, To KF, Sy SM, Wong NL, Lai PB, Squire JA, Wong N*. Identification of PFTAIRE protein kinase 1, a novel cell division cycle-2 related gene, in the motile phenotype of hepatocellular carcinoma cells. Hepatology 2007; 46:436-45
  9. Poon T, Wong N, Lai PB, Rattray M, Johnson PJ, Sung JJ. A Tumor Progression Model for HCC - bioinformatic analysis of genomic data. Gastroenterology 2006, 131:1262-70.
  10. Wong N, Lai PB, Pang E, Leung TW, Lau JW, Johnson PJ. A comprehensive karyotypic study on human hepatocellular carcinoma by Spectral Karyotyping. Hepatology 2000, 32:1060-1068

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