My initial training from my undergraduate duration in Singapore is that of a Microbiologist with a focus on antimicrobial chemicals and peptides. It was a rigorous training and an excellent degree. During this period, I gained a wealth of technical knowledge and personal skills which enabled me to function effectively as an entry level research scientist.
Since then I have been branched out from my microbiological foundations, constantly exposed and tested on various occasions as I entered Karolinska as a Ph.D student, mentored by Professor Agneta Richter-Dahlfors. Under her tutelage I have attended and presented my work at numerous international seminars and conferences, supervised 5 students and branched out far beyond microbiology into translational research.
My research now integrates several disciplines, covering the live study of host pathogen interactions with a focus on infections of the upper urinary tract, the study of biofilm development, and the development and validation of research tools necessary for such studies. In doing so, I have authored/co-authored several original research manuscripts, review articles and patent applications.
Bacterial infections are accompanied by dynamic alterations in tissue homeostasis in infected organs. What starts as a local bacterium-host cell interaction at the site of infection, changes over time to include distant signaling and engagement of multiple cell types in the host’s effort to eradicate the intruders. Hence, bacteria are being exposed to a continuously changing microenvironment during the time-course of infection. My research focuses on i) bacterial population behaviour in infection, ii) probing the microenvironment during infection using bacteria as biosensors, iii) studying the role of virulence factors in vivo, and iv) the analysis of long-term consequences of infection. Work to this extent is based on intravital imaging technologies, classical microbiological techniques and nanoprobes to increase our understanding of the delicate interplay between the microbe and the host. Utilizing the live organ as our test tube, my work contibutes to forming the foundation of the new field termed “Tissue microbiology”.
Academic honors, awards and prizes
1: Choong, F. X., Regberg, J., and Udekwu, K. I., et al. (2012a). Intravital models of infection lay the foundation for tissue microbiology. Future Microbiol 7, 519-533.
2: Choong, F. X., Sandoval, R. M., and Molitoris, B. A., et al. (2012b). Multiphoton microscopy applied for real-time intravital imaging of bacterial infections in vivo. Methods in Enzymol 506, 35-61.
3: Melican, K., Choong, F. X., Richter-Dahlfors, A., (2012a). Host-pathogen interactions and host defence mechanisms. Schrier’s diseases of the kidney (9 ed)