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Dr MA, Stephanie Kwai Yee 馬桂宜

Dr MA, Stephanie Kwai Yee 馬桂宜

  • BSc, MSc (UBC); PhD (HKU)
  • Assistant Professor
L1-47, Laboratory Block, 21 Sassoon Road, Hong Kong
+852 3917 9238 (office); 3917 9204 or 3917 9424 or 3917 9102 (Lab)
+852 2817 0857
  • Exploiting Stemness as a Cancer Cell Vulnerability

  • B.Sc., The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada (1996-2000)
  • M.Sc., The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada (2000-2003)
  • Ph.D., The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (2005-2007)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (2007-2009)
  • Research Assistant Professor, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (2009-2012)
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Clinical Oncology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (2012-2013)
  • Principal Investigator, State Key Laboratory for Liver Research, HKU

We are interested in understanding the general mechanism of tumorigenesis and developing strategies to prevent cancer through gaining new knowledge of the biological and molecular characteristics of cancer stem cells / tumor-initiating cells that are likely associated with the unfavorable outcome of this disease. Gastrointestinal tumor types particularly prevalent in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, including hepatocellular carcinoma and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, are currently used as model systems in our studies. Efforts are directed at conducting basic studies using a combination of molecular, cellular, OMICs, and disease modeling approaches, with an ultimate goal to translate the findings in the lab into better patient care in the clinic.

  • Postgraduate positions are available. Please send email to Dr. S Ma for more details.
  • Ranked by ISI Essential Science Indicators as one of the top 1% most cited scholars in ‘Clinical Medicine’ and ‘All Fields” since 2010.
  • Published a total of 56 publications: 45 full articles, 7 review articles and 4 book chapters.

^corresponding author

  1. Ma S, Chan KW, Hu L, Lee TK, Wo JY, Ng IO, Zheng BJ, Guan XY^. Identification and characterization of tumorigenic liver cancer stem/progenitor cells. Gastroenterology 2007; 132:2542-56. [Citations: >1020]
  2. Ma S, Lee TK, Zheng BJ, Chan KW, Guan XY^. CD133+ HCC cancer stem cells promote chemoresistance by preferential expression of the Akt/PKB survival pathway. Oncogene 2008; 27:1749-58. [Citations: >635] 
    (F1000 Rating: 8 Must Read; Mishra L: 2008. F1000.com/1096034)
  3. Ma S^, Tang KH, Chan YP, Lee TK, Kwan PS, Castilho A, Ng IO, Man K, Wong N, To KF, Zheng BJ, Lai PB, Lo CM, Chan KW^, Guan XY^. miR-130b promotes CD133+ liver tumor-initiating cell growth and self-renewal via tumor protein 53-induced nuclear protein 1. Cell Stem Cell 2010; 7:694-707. [Citations: >290]
    (Awarded the 2011 Outstanding Research Output Award, Faculty of Medicine, HKU)
  4. Lee TK, Castilho A, Cheung VC, Tang KH, Ma S, Ng IO^. CD24+ liver tumor-initiating cells drive self-renewal and tumor initiation through Stat3-mediated Nanog regulation. Cell Stem Cell 2011; 9:50-63. [Citations: >330]
    (Awarded the 2012 Outstanding Research Output Award, Faculty of Medicine, HKU)
    (Selected as one of the top ten “featured research papers” of Cell Stem Cell in 2012)
  5. Tang KH, Ma S^, Lee TK, Chan YP, Kwan PS, Tong CM, Ng IO, Man K, To KF, Lai PB, Lo CM, Guan XY^, Chan KW^. CD133(+) liver tumor-initiating cells promote tumor angiogenesis, growth, and self-renewal through neurotensin/interleukin-8/CXCL1 signaling. Hepatology 2012; 55:807-20.
  6. Ma S, Bao JY, Kwan PS, Chan YP, Tong M, Fu L, Zhang N, Tong AH, Qin YR, Tsao SW, Chan KW, Lok S^, Guan XY^. Identification of PTK6, via RNA sequencing analysis, as a suppressor of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Gastroenterology 2012; 143:675-86.
  7. Tang KH, Dai Y, Tong M, Chan YP, Kwan PS, Fu L, Qin YR, Tsao SW, Lung HL, Lung ML, Tong DK, Law S, Chan KW, Ma S^, Guan XY^. A CD90+ tumor-initiating cell population with an aggressive signature and metastatic capacity in esophageal cancer. Cancer Res 2013; 73:2322-32.
  8. Tong M, Fung TM, Luk ST, Ng KY, Lee TK, Lin CH, Yam JW, Chan KW, Ng F, Zheng BJ, Yuan YF, Xie D, Lo CM, Man K, Guan XY, Ma S^. ANXA3/JNK signaling promotes self-renewal and tumor growth and its blockade provides a therapeutic target for hepatocellular carcinoma. Stem Cell Reports 2015; 5:45-59.
  9. Chai S, Ng KY, Tong M, Lau EY, Lee TK, Chan KW, Yuan YF, Cheung TT, Cheung ST, Wang XQ, Wong N, Lo CM, Man K, Guan XY, Ma S^. Oct4/miR-1246 signaling axis drives Wnt/β-catenin activation in liver cancer stem cells. Hepatology 2016; 64:2062-76.
  10. Ng KY, Chan LH, Chai S, Tong M, Guan XY, Lee NP, Yuan YF, Xie D, Lee TK, Dusetti NJ, Carrier A, Ma S^. TP53INP1 down-regulation activates a p73-dependent DUSP10/ERK signaling pathway to promote metastasis of hepatocellular carcinoma. Cancer Res 2017; 77:4602-12.
  • RGC CRF (2011/2012) Co-I
  • RFCID (2011) PI
  • NSFC Science Fund for Young Scholars (2013) PI
  • RGC GRF (2012/2013) PI
  • RGC GRF (2013/2014) PI
  • Croucher Innovation Award, The Croucher Foundation (2014) PI
  • RGC ECS (2014/2015) PI
  • RGC CRF (2014/2015) PC
  • RGC CRF (2014/2015) Co-PI
  • RGC GRF (2016/2017) PI
  • RGC TBRS (2016/2017) Co-PI
  • RGC TBRS (2016/2017) Co-I
  • NSFC General Program (2016) PI
  • RGC GRF (2017/18) PI
  • Outstanding Young Scientist Travel Award, National Institute of Health, USA (2001)
  • Li Ka Shing Prize (for the best Ph.D. thesis in the Faculties of Dentistry, Engineering, Medicine and Science), Graduate School, HKU (2006/2007)
  • International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) Travel Award, USA (2007)
  • Hong Kong Young Scientist Award (Life Sciences), Hong Kong Institution of Science (2008)
  • State Key Laboratory for Liver Research – Young Researcher Career Development Scheme (YRCDS), HKU (2011)
  • Faculty Outstanding Research Output Award, Faculty of Medicine, HKU (2011) – in the capacity of first and corresponding author
  • Faculty Outstanding Research Output Award, Faculty of Medicine, HKU (2012) – in the capacity of co-author
  • Outstanding Young Researcher Award, HKU (2012/2013)
  • Croucher Innovation Award, The Croucher Foundation (2014)
  • Higher Education Institution of China - Scientific Research Outstanding Achievement Awards (Second-class Award in Science and Technology Section) (2014)
  • University of British Columbia (UBC) Alumni Builder Award (2017/18)
  • Associate Editor, American Journal of Cancer Research (2011- )
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics (2011- )
  • Editorial Board, Translational Cancer Research (2017- ) 
  • Dr. Man TONG, Carol (PDF)
  • Dr. Kai Yu NG, Johnson (PDF)
  • Ms. Wan Foon KAU, Phillis (Senior Technician)
  • Mr. Tin Chi LUK, Steve (PhD Student)
  • Dr. Tin Lok WONG, Eric (PDF)
  • Dr. Lei ZHOU, Lena (PDF)
  • Ms. Noelia CHE (PhD Student)
  • Ms. Tsz Wai LI, Natalie (MPhil Student)
  • Ms. Ho Chun LOONG, Jane (MPhil Student)
  • Mr. Kwan Leung YU, Michael (MPhil Student)