Professor Dr. Chua Kek Heng is a senior professor and the Head of the Department of Biomedical Science (2014-2016; 2021-2023), Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya. Prof Chua's research areas include various disease polymorphism studies, mutation investigation studies, characterization of bacterial virulence factors, and diagnostic kit development.
Professor Chua has attained outstanding achievements in terms of publications, intellectual property rights, and patents. His commitment and relentless hard work have led to more than 200 original publications. His contributions in science and technology are not only limited to novel scientific innovations but also allow further understanding between human disease and its association with various genetic factors and microorganisms. Professor Chua is an outstanding scientist, however, he does not only concentrate on his own achievements but he “builds” leaders. He makes it his duty to prepare and train his younger staff, colleagues, and students to excel in biological research.
In terms of social impact, Professor Chua’s commitment to the study of genotyping of diseases has resulted in the successful mapping of important disease predisposing markers for systemic lupus erythematosus, Crohn’s disease, and retinopathy in the Malaysian population. The frequencies and distributions of those polymorphisms or mutations in the three main ethnic groups in Malaysia are vital in disease development prediction and allow early preventive measures. One of his studies has led to a high-impact publication, Nature Genetics in 2016. Apart from fundamental studies, some of his research has also been translated into applied detection platforms. These innovative approaches, tests, and kits allow more cost-effective, rapid, sensitive, and specific detection and confirmation of human diseases and microbial infections. His efforts have been recognized at the national and international levels as he currently holds more than 1500 intellectual properties which include national and international patents, trademarks, and copyrights. PlasmoNex- a diagnostic kit for malaria was developed by Professor Chua. It has been successfully commercialized in 2011. The kit is the world’s first PCR-based malaria detection system that can detect all 5 different species of plasmodium (malaria parasites) in a cocktail assay.
Professor Chua has contributed much to the transfer of scientific knowledge in his capacity as a national committee/panel member for the evaluation of numerous grants/projects, namely Science Fund, FRGS, UMRG, PPP, and ERGS. He is also actively involved in organizing national/international workshops to introduce up-to-date technologies to young Malaysian researchers and to train young scientists in molecular “bench” skills. To date, he has delivered more than a hundred presentations in various seminars, expositions, and conferences. At the international level, he has been a reviewer for many ISI (WOS) publications. External reviewer for International grants in his field and moderator/ advisor for many teaching institutions.
Professor Chua has also frequently been selected to represent the University of Malaya in various major national and international exhibitions/competitions such as Bio-Malaysia, International Invention, Innovation, and Technology Exhibition (ITEX), International Exposition of Research and Invention of Institutions of Higher Learning (PECIPTA), Nuremberg International Invention Fair (IENA), Germany, Biotechnology Asia Expo, International Exhibition of Inventions, New Technology & Products, Geneva, Switzerland and the Seoul International Invention Fair (SIIF), Korea. To date, he has been awarded more than 100 prestigious national and international awards not limited to Biotechnology Asia Award 2005, Best Invention in Biotechnology Award 2006, USA INPEX Grand Prix Award 2008, Excellent Scientist Malaysia in 2005 by the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia, National Intellectual Property Award 2013, World Halal Excellent Innovation Award 2013, Top Research Scientist Malaysia 2017 for his perseverance in research and excellent research innovations. Apart from that, he has also been awarded several times of excellent service awards, Excellent lecturer award in 2014, and Best lecturer for Biomedical Science teaching 2017 for his contributions to academic service and teaching at the University of Malaya. With his contributions, he has the distinct honor of having been featured in the "Successful People in Malaysia" (2019) by British Publishing House Ltd and who's who in civil service Malaysia (2021).