Dr Khoo Sok Kean is currently a Distinguished Associate Professor of Molecular Genomics in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology and co-Director for the Beckman Scholars Program at Grand Valley State University (GVSU), Michigan, USA. Sok Kean obtained BSc in Applied Biology (1992) and MSc in Reproductive Physiology (1995) from the University of Science Malaysia, and a PhD in Fisheries Genetics and Genomics from Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology in 2000.
Sok Kean as a miRNA-based Parkinson’s disease researcher, leads a Parkinson’s disease research laboratory at GVSU, since 2013, focusing on developing detection biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease. She was the first researcher to publish that blood plasma microRNAs (miRNAs) can be used as potential biomarkers to distinguish Parkinson’s disease patients from healthy controls. Over the years, she received various awards and grants to support her scientific research, including the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) and the Beckman Foundation grant, one of the most prestigious and competitive awards in the USA. To date, she has received USD 1 million of external funding to support her research and students.
Sok Kean’s Parkinson research was widely published i.e. 65 manuscripts in peer-reviewed scientific journals, 116 oral or poster presentations at local, national, and international conferences. As a highly sought-after speaker, she was invited to various Parkinson-related workshops and conferences. As an educator, she has 65 mentees under her guidance/mentorship, mostly female. She is active in promoting science for female high school students in Michigan through its annual events i.e. “Science is for Girls” and “Fall in Love with STEM”.
I am proud to attend PCGS, one of the most renowned and prestigious female high schools in Penang and Malaysia from 1979 to 1985. The school’s motto “Decorum, Honesty, Diligence, Simplicity” has been a model for positive ethics that shaped who I am. I am grateful to all my high school teachers, especially the science teachers, who provided a high-quality science education that inspired my love for science and eventually transformed me to pursue a science-related career. I am also grateful to my fellow alumna and high school friend, who facilitated the landing of my first professional career in America. Thus, I am proud to say that PCGS is my alma mater that played an important role in my success today.