Staff profile: Marie Wong

At KCCG Dr Marie Wong has focused on building infrastructure to house, integrate and share genomic results for children with cancer.
18 September 2018

This enables the research and clinical teams to make informed decisions for each patient and uncover features of the larger cohort.

“The knowledge that our work informs alternative treatment options for these kids and seeing some success stories is very motivating,” said Dr Wong.

Dr Wong did her Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Melbourne. She was fascinated by the field, but had no love for wet laboratory work. With impeccable timing, she took up programming just as the internet was taking off and bioinformatics was emerging as a new discipline.

She got her start at the Bioinformatics Centre in Singapore. From there, she moved to the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology to work with Nobel laureate Sydney Brenner to sequence, assemble and analyse the fugu (pufferfish) genome.

“This work led to a publication in Science from a teeny tiny country where science isn’t the mainstay, which was quite a feat,” said Dr Wong.

It was also in Singapore that Dr Wong got her introduction to cancer biology, looking at gene expression in treated and untreated cancers at Ely Lily while she simultaneously started a PhD on transcriptional regulators.

She then worked at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research on whole cancer genomes and characterising models to for drug screening.

“Toronto was just too cold so I went back to Singapore before moving to Australia to take up a role at KCCG studying children’s cancers,” said Dr Wong.

In the future, she would like to do more cohort level studies and explore less understood parts of the genome to identify new cancer drivers.