Dr. Ken Pang Receives 2008 Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholarship
Dr. Ken Pang, postdoctoral fellow at the LICR Melbourne Center, has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholarship to conduct research at Harvard University’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.
Dr. Pang graduated in medicine at the University of Melbourne and subsequently trained as a pediatrician. He earned his PhD in 2007, under the joint supervision of Dr. Weisan Chen at the LICR Melbourne Center and Dr. John Mattick at the Institute for Molecular Biosciences in Brisbane. During his doctoral research, Dr. Pang made discoveries which suggest that the majority of ‘junk DNA’ (DNA that does not code for proteins) in the genome in fact serves a role, which is to make ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules. For his work, which was published in 14 articles, he received multiple awards including the 2006 Victorian Premier’s Commendation for Medical Research.
In August, after finishing his postdoctoral work with Dr. Chen at the LICR Melbourne Center, Dr. Pang will head to Harvard. There, he will work with Professor Craig Hunter to study the role of intracellular RNA transport in mammals. “Professor Hunter’s laboratory has played a leading role in the discovery and characterization of proteins involved in the transport of RNA between cells,” says Dr. Pang. “These proteins were initially identified in the worm C. elegans, but are present throughout the animal kingdom, including humans. My project will study whether mammalian cells are sending RNA signals to one another, and will explore the biological significance of this novel form of communication.”
Dr. Pang also explains that RNA potently turns off genes once inside cells: “This raises the exciting possibility of using synthetic RNA as a new treatment for a wide range of diseases, but we still do not properly understand how best to deliver RNA into cells. I will use mouse models to study how RNA is transported across cells, and ultimately this should aid the development of effective RNA-based drugs.”
The Fulbright program is the largest educational scholarship of its kind, created by U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright and the U.S. Government in 1946. Aimed at promoting mutual understanding through educational exchange, it operates between the U.S. and 150 countries. Dr. Pang is one of 24 Australians to be recognized as a Fulbright Scholar in 2008.
Dr. Ken Pang from the LICR Melbourne Center.