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Dr Ken Pang
Ken Pang is a consultant paediatrician and biomedical researcher. Clinically, he trained in paediatrics and child psychiatry and currently works in the Department of Adolescent Medicine at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne. As a researcher, Ken completed his PhD in genomics and immunology, before undertaking postdoctoral studies in genetics at Harvard University as a Fulbright Scholar. In 2016, Ken joined the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) as one of the inaugural Melbourne Children's Clinician Scientist Fellows.
Ken has 46 overall publications (plus 4 book chapters) that have received >10,000 citations. Many of these have been in leading journals, including first/corresponding author publications in Immunity, Molecular Psychiatry, Genome Research, and Nucleic Acids Research (x3) and minor author publications in Science (x2). Consistent with this, 18 of his publications (8 as first author) have received >100 citations, and he averages >200 citations per article.
Ken's research has been recognised via 17 awards/fellowships from the time he was a PhD student (e.g. Victorian Premier's Commendation for Medical Research) and postdoctoral follow (e.g. NHMRC/RG Menzies Fellowship as the "highest ranked candidate who the Menzies Foundation judges to best represent qualities of leadership ability, both proven and potential") to his more recent role in leading his own team (e.g. 2018 Victorian Premier's Award for Medical Research - Basic Science).
Since moving to the MCRI in 2016, he has published 19 papers and 1 book chapter (14 of which he was first and/or corresponding author on), the impact of which is reflected in his field weighted citation impact of 2.5.
Career Development Fellowship, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, 2019
CJ Martin Overseas Biomedical Fellowship, Australian National Health & Medical Research Council, 2008-10, 2013-14
Sir Keith Murdoch Fellowship, American Australian Association, 2011
Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholarship, Australian - American Fulbright Commission, 2008
Dean's Award for Excellence in a PhD Thesis, University of Melbourne, 2008
Victorian Premier's Commendation for Medical Research, 2006
Ken's current lab-based research program focuses on RNA transport. In particular, Ken's team has studied the biological roles of two proteins, known as SIDT1 and SIDT2, and their role in transporting viral RNAs into the cell for innate immune recognition.
Improving the delivery of RNA therapeutics
Since the discovery of RNA interference (RNAi), substantial efforts have been made to develop RNAi therapeutics for human disease. However, despite ~50 clinical trials involving short interfering RNAs (siRNAs), only a single RNAi therapeutic has been approved for clinical use. This lack of success is due to a common problem: namely, ineffective endosomal escape. More specifically, as highlighted by Steven Dowdy in a recent Nature Biotechnology review, “getting RNA-based therapeutics out of the endosome and into the cytoplasm in a non-toxic manner is the key technological problem to solve before we can tap into the full potential of RNA-based therapeutics" (5). Achieving safe and effective cytosolic delivery of siRNAs is thus a major, clinically relevant research objective, and solving this challenge has the potential to improve treatments for a diversity of diseases, including various cancers, infections and genetic disorders.
Building upon our discovery that SIDT2 transports viral RNAs from endosomes into the cytoplasm for innate immune recognition (Nguyen et al, Immunity, 2017), we are actively investigating the role of SIDT2 in the delivery of RNA interference-based therapeutics.
Selected publications in RNA biology
2. Nguyen TA, Whitehead L, Pang KC. (2018) Quantification of Extracellular Double-stranded RNA Uptake and Subcellular Localisation Using Flow Cytometry and Confocal Microscopy. Bio-protocol 8(12): e2890.
3. Nguyen TA, Whitehead L, Pang KC (2018). Detection and quantification of MAVS aggregation via confocal microscopy. Methods Mol Biol 1714: 237-247.
4. Nguyen TA, Smith BRC, Belz GT, Barrios MH, Elgass KD, Weisman WA, Preston S, Lundie R, Pellegrini M, O'Keeffe M, Wicks IP, Masters SL, Hunter CP**, Pang KC**. (2017) Sidt2 transports extracellular dsRNA into the cytoplasm for innate immune recognition. Immunity 47: 498-509.
5. Taft RJ, Pang KC, Mercer TM, Dinger M, Mattick JS. (2010) Noncoding RNAs: regulators of disease. Journal of Pathology 220:126-139.
6. Dinger ME**, Pang KC**, Mercer TR, Crowe ML, Grimmond SM, Mattick JS. (2009) NRED: a database of long noncoding RNA expression. Nucleic Acids Research 37: D122-126.
7. Pang KC, Dinger ME, Mercer TR, Malquori LL, Grimmond SM, Chen W, Mattick JS. (2009) Genome-wide identification of long noncoding RNAs in CD8+ T cells. Journal of Immunology 182: 7738-7748.
8. Pang KC**, Frith MC**, Mattick JS. (2006) Rapid evolution of noncoding RNAs: lack of conservation does not mean lack of function. Trends in Genetics 22: 1-5.
9. Pang KC, Stephen S, Engstrom PG, Tajul-Arifin K, Chen W, Wahlestedt C, Lenhard B, Hayashizaki Y, Mattick, JS. (2005) RNAdb--a comprehensive mammalian noncoding RNA database. Nucleic Acids Research 33: D125-130.
10. Carninci P, et al. (2005) The transcriptional landscape of the mammalian genome. Science 309: 1559-1563.
11. Katayama S, et al. (2005) Antisense transcription in the mammalian transcriptome. Science 309: 1564-1566.
** denotes equal contribution
As lead investigator, I have attracted >$2.0 million in research funding from various government, philanthropic and college sources, including the NHMRC, RACP, Australian-American Fulbright Commission, American Australian Association, Menzies Foundation, DEBRA Australia and CASS Foundation.