Josephine Ko attended Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) for her bachelor’s degree and PhD. After being a Research Associate in the Department of biology at HKUST, she joined the Department of Clinical Oncology at the University of Hong Kong as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 2009. She became the Research Assistant Professor in 2015.
My main research interest is elucidation of the underlying mechanisms of molecular genetics and disease pathogenesis of several cancers including colorectal cancer (CRC), esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). My MPhil research focused on CRC molecular genetics. My PhD training aimed to use functional complementation approaches to map tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) in ESCC by microcell-mediated chromosome transfer (MMCT). Tools in molecular biology and various in vitro and in vivo functional assays are used to characterize candidate TSGs. Currently, I am interested in the elucidation of the genetic susceptibility factors responsible for NPC and ESCC development by the identification of the deleterious germline variants predisposing individuals with higher risk of cancer with the next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies. Loss-of-function mutations in BRCA2 involved in DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair and the TERT locus at 5p15.33 are hypothesized to play an etiological role in the familial ESCC and NPC development, respectively. I am also interested in translational research utilizing liquid biopsy and NGS analysis as tools for longitudinal monitoring of cancer progression and the molecular mechanism and clonal expansion of tumor evolution leading to disease relapse. Unravelling the genetic loci/pathways involved in these three cancer types will provide insights into novel therapeutics. Understanding the disease pathogenesis and metastasis will finally aid in the early diagnosis and identify potential prognostic biomarkers have implications for disease management and improvement of survival of patients.