Department of Medical Sciences

The Department of Medical Sciences is led by a team of passionate researchers of renowned expertise and extensive publications. We conduct research across various healthcare areas including cancer-related studies, patient care, public health policies and mental well-being, all with the aim of improving quality of life in the community.

The following are several research studies currently undertaken by our researchers:

Professor Abhimanyu Veerakumarasivam

Bladder cancer genetics: From fundamental understanding to developing therapeutics
This study involves identifying and elucidating the components of regulatory and signalling pathways that govern cancer recurrence and invasion, with a primary focus on bladder cancer as a model. The work includes integrated multi-dimensional global profiling of primary tumours, tissue-specific cancer stem cells and in vitro models; delineation of the molecular basis of viral oncolysis; and diagnosis of novel microduplication and microdeletion birth defect syndromes.

State of young scientists in the ASEAN Region: Leadership, ethics, creativity & innovation
This study aims to promote the capacity-building and role of young scientists in the ASEAN region to be champions of science and innovation in the region. With collaborations with the International Network of Government Science Advice (INGSA) and the Global Young Academy (GYA), the work involves understanding the opportunities and challenges in the space of leadership, ethics, creativity and innovation in the region.


Professor Dr Chia Yook Chin

Care of patients with diabetes mellitus
This study employs a randomised control trial to examine whether having a nurse with a team approach improves care of patients with diabetes mellitus in reducing kidney disease.

Home blood pressure monitoring (AsiaBP@Home)
In collaboration with HOPE Asia Network, this study examines blood pressure control in patients with hypertension using home blood pressure measurements with the aim of increasing control in monitoring blood pressure.

Blood pressure variability (BPV)
This is a prospective study examining variability in blood pressure using home blood pressure measurements in a large cohort of patients with hypertension.


Dr Chook Jack Bee

Delineation of genetic variations of hepatitis B virus in viral resurgence
This is a cohort study that investigates the possible existence of hepatitis B virus genetic variants responsible for abrupt increase of circulating viral load, known as viral resurgence. Individuals with chronic hepatitis B who experience viral resurgence is at a higher risk for the highly deadly fulminant hepatitis. Identifying specific genetic variants of hepatitis B virus associated with viral resurgence could help prevent the development of fulminant hepatitis and improve understanding of the disease pathogenesis.

Hepatitis B virus DNA methylation as an early biomarker for liver cancer
This study collects and compares the sera of chronic hepatitis B individuals that developed liver cancer after 5 years and those that did not, with the aim of identifying specific DNA methylation patterns in circulating hepatitis B virus DNA that would indicate which individuals will develop liver cancer in 5 to 10 years’ time. By knowing specific DNA methylation patterns responsible for the development of liver cancer, a more aggressive clinical management could be implemented to delay, if not prevent, the development of liver cancer.


Dr Hwang Jun Shan

Study of methotrexate efficacy and toxicity in Malaysian patients with rheumatoid arthritis
Although methotrexate (MTX) is the first-line drug used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), its efficacy and toxicity vary among patients. The anti-inflammatory effects of MTX could be due to increase of extracellular adenosine and hence, this study focuses on the gene polymorphism in MTX pathway leading to the release of adenosine and its association with MTX efficacy and toxicity. This study collects blood samples of RA patients from multiple study sites and analyses their single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on MTX responses using fluorescence-based real-time PCR and DNA sequencing.

Recombinant immunotoxin targeting M1 macrophages in chronic inflammatory diseases
The production of an immunotoxin involves using a flexible polypeptide to conjugate an antibody moiety to a toxin moiety. The recombinant immunotoxin constructed in this study is able to selectively target the surface markers expressed on pro-inflammatory M1 macrophages and eliminate them via cytolysis. M1 macrophage can produce various pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines that prolong inflammation and hence, is often found in many pro-inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease. By eliminating M1 macrophages, recombinant immunotoxin can potentially be used against these chronic inflammatory diseases.


Dr Ooi Pei Boon

Online behaviour and prevention programme in Malaysia
This is a research-based and community engagement project which has several objectives pertaining to cyberbullying awareness and prevention. The main objective of the project is to aid cyberbullying victims in Malaysia by providing the necessary intervention tools and skillset to solve this problem.

Well-being of patients undergoing haemodialysis treatment in Malaysian hospitals
This study has two phases — Phase I focuses on the patients’ self-efficacy, anxiety, depression and quality of life while Phase 2 is the implementation of the CBT Psychoeducational Programme.  Data from Phase 1 are used to shape and define the programme in Phase 2, which focuses on improving four main areas of patients’ well-being: self-understanding, cognitive behavioural management, communication skills and change and maintenance.

Students’ mental health and university experience
This study examines the mental health status of university students and its relationship with the university experience as a whole.

Self-efficacy of counsellors
This study looks into the self-efficacy of both registered and non-registered counsellors and how it is developed. This study is also investigating new models to enhance counselling self-efficacy among school counsellors.


Dr Ronald Teow Sin Yeang

Autophagy and microRNAs in colorectal and liver cancers as potential biomarkers for predictive and prognostic significances
This study aims to investigate the potential of using autophagy and several disease-specific microRNAs as predictive and prognostic markers for colorectal and liver cancers as they contribute to cancer development, cancer progression and therapy resistance. This study uses archived patients’ formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue samples from both Asian (from Malaysian) and Western (from Australian) cohorts along with clinicopathological parameters and overall survival data for autophagy and miRNA expression assays, followed by association studies.

Understanding the tumour-stromal microenvironment in nasopharyngeal carcinoma using in vitro multi-culture three-dimensional model
Epstein-barr virus (EBV) is an oncogenic virus known to cause various cancers, including nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). To understand the EBV and NPC’s microenvironment, this study aims to examine the interaction of multiple cell types in NPC development and progression using tissues-derived fibroblasts, xenograft cells and lymphocytes of NPC patients.

New anticancer compound discovery using the anticancer properties of natural products, naturally-derived nanoparticles and hydrogel-conjugated composites
This is a major study that involves collaborations with various cancer research groups both nationally and internationally, as well as researchers from diverse disciplines including chemists, bioengineers and pathologists. In addition to our own Sunway Molecular Medicine Laboratory, we also partner with other national laboratories or institutes granting us full access to high-end facilities such as animal facilities, transmission or scanning electron microscopy (TEM/SEM), automated high-content cell analyser, confocal microscopy, fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) facility, automated liquid handling system and X-ray/gamma irradiator.



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