Professor NG Oi Lin, Irene

Prof NG

Loke Yew Professor in Pathology
Chair Professor of Pathology
Director, State Key Laboratory of Liver Research (HKU)

Molecular pathology, hepatopathology and molecular oncology

  • MBBS (HK), MD (HK), PhD (HK), FRCPath, FHKCPath, FHKAM (Pathology)

Molecular pathology, hepatopathology and molecular oncology

Research Description
The research of my lab aims to unravel the molecular and cellular mechanisms of liver cancer. The current research of my lab focuses on the integrated functional genomics of liver cancer using genome-scale technologies coupled with clinical translational studies. I have an active program in the basic/translational research of liver cancer, using state-of-the art molecular approaches including genomics, transcriptomics, and single cell analysis, to capture cancer heterogeneity, identify novel subclones, and unravel signaling pathways. I am coupling genomics, genetics, functional molecular analysis and in vivo pre-clinical animal models as well as patient-derived tumor xenograft models to address the molecular mechanisms of this cancer. We work towards translational application for early detection, diagnosis, prognosis and patient stratification towards precision oncology.

Research Grants in the recent 5 years
  • RGC Theme-based Research Scheme on Research Fund on Understanding cancer stemness in liver cancer- From regulation to translational applications (2016)
  • RGC General Research Fund on liver cancer (2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016)
  • Health and Medical Research Fund on HBV and liver cancer (2013, 2015 2016 & 2017)
  • Innovation and Technology Commission Grant for State Key Lab of Liver Research (2010 – present)
  • Ministry of Science and Technology grant on liver cancer (2017)


Research team members
  • Dr. Yu-Man Tsui (Research Assistant Professor)
  • Dr. Karen Man-Fong Sze (Research Officer)
  • Dr. Alexia Xia Wang (Post-doctoral Fellow)
  • Dr. Vanilla Xin Zhang (Post-doctoral Fellow)
  • Dr. Qingyang Zhang (Post-doctoral Fellow)
  • Dr. Ao Chen (Post-doctoral Fellow)
  • Dr. Abdullah Hussain (Post-doctoral Fellow)
  • Dr. Lucy Lu Tian (Post-doctoral Fellow)
  • Mr. Hong-Yang Huang (PhD student)
  • Ms. Xiao-Yu Xie (PhD student)
  • Ms. Anna Jingyi Lu (PhD student)
  • Ms. Tiffany Ching-Yun Yu (PhD student)
  • Mr. Dickson Chun-Yin Yu (PhD student)
  • Ms. Tina Angabaji Suo (MPhil student)
  • Ms. Joyce Man-Fong Lee (Senior Technician)
  • Ms. Eva Lee (Technical Officer)
  • Mr. Gary Cheuk-Hang Cheung (Research Assistant)
  • Mr. Ivan Ka Kit Tam (Senior Technical Assistant)

Close collaborators
  • Dr. Daniel WH Ho (Research Assistant Professor)
  • Dr. Ken Hoi-Tang Ma (Assistant Professor)
  • Ms Shirley Xueying Lyu (MPhil Student)

Awards and Honors

Ranked # 8 in the Best Female Scientists in China 2022 Ranking

Ranked # 517 in the Best Female Scientists in the World 2022 Ranking

The World Academy of Science 2014 Prize (Medical Science)

Director, State Key Laboratory of Liver Research (HKU)

Loke Yew Endowed Professorship in Pathology

Croucher Senior Medical Research Fellowship 2013-14 and 2005- 06, Croucher Foundation

Director, Croucher Summer Course in Cancer Biology (2013, 2015 & 2017)

Faculty Outstanding Research Output Award 2012 & 2019, HKU

Outstanding Research Student Supervisor Award 2007-08, HKU

Outstanding Researcher Award 2005, HKU

Selected Publications


  • Zhang QY, Ho DW, Tsui YM, Ng IO. Single cell transcriptomics of liver cancer - hype or insights?  Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol 2022; 14:513-525.

  • Husain A#, Chiu EY#, Sze KM, Ho DW, Tsui YM, Suarez EM, Zhang VX, Chan LK, Lee E, Lee JM, Cheung TT, Wong CC, Chung CY, Ng IO. Ephrin-A3/EphA2 axis regulates cellular metabolic plasticity to enhance cancer stemness in hepatocellular carcinoma. J Hepatol 2022; 2022; 77:383-396. #Equal contribution.

  • Lyu SX#, Tsui YM#, Ho DW*, Ng IO*. Liquid biopsy using cell-free or circulating tumor DNA in the management of hepatocellular carcinoma. Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol 2022; 13:1611-1624. #Equal contribution. *Co-corresponding authors.

  • Tian L#, Zhao L#, Sze KM#, Kam CS, Ming VX, Wang X, Zhang VX, Ho DW, Chan LK*, Ng IO*. Dysregulation of RalA signaling through dual regulatory mechanisms exerts its oncogenic functions in hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatology 2022; 76:48-65. #Equal contribution. *Co-corresponding authors.

  • Khandakar B, Liu JR, Thung S, Li Y, Rhee HJ, Kagen AC, Tong TS, Park YN*, Theise N*, Ng IO*. Lymphoepithelioma-like neoplasm of the biliary tract with ‘probable low malignant potential. Histopathology 2022; 80:720-728. *Co-corresponding authors.

  • Ho DW*, Tsui YM, Chan LK, Sze KM, Zhang X, Cheu JW, Chiu YT, Lee JM, Chan AC, Cheung ET, Yau DT, Chia NH, Lo IL, Sham PC, Cheung TT, Wong CC, Ng IO*. Single-cell RNA sequencing unravels the immunosuppressive landscape and tumor heterogeneity of hepatocellular carcinoma. Nat Commun 2021; 12:3684. *Co-corresponding authors.

  • Chan LK*, Ho DW, Kam CS, Chiu EY, Lo IL, Yau DT, Cheung ET, Tang CN, Tang VW, Lee TK, Wong CC, Chok KS, Chan AC, Cheung TT, Wong CM, Ng IO*. RSK2-inactivating mutations potentiate MAPK signaling and support cholesterol metabolism in hepatocellular carcinoma. J Hepatol 2021; 74:360-371. *Co-corresponding authors.

  • Sze KM#, Ho DW#, Chiu YT, Tsui YM, Chan LK, Lee JM, Chok KS, Chan AC, Tang CN, Tang VW, Lo IL, Yau DT, Cheung TT, Ng IO. Novel cis-activation harnessing host ELF4 and HBV integrated at the TERT promoter to enhance hepatocarcinogenesis. Hepatology 2021;73:23-40. #Equal contribution.

  • Chan LK, Ng IO. Joining the dots for better liver cancer treatment. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 17:74-75.

  • Ho DW#, Tsui YM#, Sze KM, Chan LK, Cheung TT, Lee E, Sham PC, Tsui SK, Lee TK, Ng IO. Single-cell transcriptomics reveals the landscape of intra-tumoral heterogeneity and stemness-related subpopulations in liver cancer. Cancer Lett 2019; 459:176-185. #Equal contribution.

  • Tsang FH, Law CT, Tang CT, Cheng CL, Chin DW, Tam VW, Wei L, Wong CC, Ng IO*, Wong CM*. Aberrant super-enhancer landscape in human hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatology 2019; 69:2502-2517. *Co-corresponding authors.

  • Lee D, Xu IM, Chiu DK, Leibold J, Tse AP, Chan CY, Lai RK, Cheung TT, Chok SH, Wong CM, Lowe S, Ng IO*, Wong CC*. Induction of oxidative stress via inhibition of thioredoxin reductase 1 is an effective therapeutic approach for hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatology 2019; 69:1768-1786. *Co-corresponding authors.

  • Ma W#, Ho DW#, Sze KM#, Tsui YM, Chan LK, Lee JM, Ng IO. APOBEC3B promotes hepatocarcinogenesis and metastasis through novel deaminase-independent activity. Mol Carcinog 2019; 58:643-653. #Equal contribution.

  • Wong CM#, Tsang FH#, Ng IO. Regulatory RNAs in hepatocellular carcinoma: molecular functions and pathological implications. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 2018; 15:137-151. #Equal contribution.

  • Cheng BY, Lau EY, Leung DH, Ho NP, Cheng LK, Ma S, Lin CH, Lo RC, Ng IO*, Lee TK*. IRAK1 augments cancer stemness and drug resistance via the AP-1/AKR1B10 signaling cascade in hepatocellular carcinoma. Cancer Res 2018; 78:2332-2342. *Co-corresponding authors.

  • Ho DW#, Chan LK#, Chiu EY, Xu IM, Poon RT, Cheung TT, Lo IL, Lam PW, Tang CN, Tang VW, Yau DT, Li MX, Wong CM, Ng IO. Exome and targeted sequencing identifies frequent TSC 1 and 2 mutations in HBV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma with high sensitivity to mTOR inhibitor treatment. Gut 2017; 66:1496-1506. #Equal contribution.

  • Cui CP, Wong CC, Kai AK, Ho DW, Lau EY, Tsui YM, Chan LK, Cheung TT, Chok KS, Chan AC, RC Lo, Lee JM, Lee TK, Ng IO. SENP1 promotes hypoxia-induced cancer stemness by HIF-1α deSUMOylation and SENP1/HIF-1α positive feedback loop. Gut 2017; 2017; 66:2149-2159.

  • Ma MK#, Lau EY#, Lo J, Ho NP, Ma S, Lin CH, Copland JA, Ding J, Lo RC, Ng IO*, Lee TK*. Targeting liver-tumor initiating cells via hampering Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase (SCD1) mediated ER stress. J Hepatol 2017; 67:979-990. #Equal contribution. *Co-corresponding authors.

  • Xu IM, Lai RK, Lin SH, Tse AP, Chiu DK, Koh HY, Law CT, Wong CM, Cai ZW, Wong CC*, Ng IO*. Transketolase counteracts oxidative stress to drive cancer development. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2016;113:E725-34. *Co-corresponding authors.

  • Kai AK, Chan LK, Lo RC, Lee JM, Wong CC, Wong CM, Ng IO. Downregulation of TIMP2 via HIF-1/ miR-210/HIF-3 regulatory feedback circuit enhances cancer metastasis in hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatology 2016; 64:473-87.

  • Chiu YT#, Wong JK#, Choi SW, Sze KM, Ho DW, Chan LK, Man K, Cherny S, Yang WL, Wong CM*, Sham PC*, Ng IO*. Novel pre-mRNA splicing of intronic integrated HBV in generation of oncogenic chimera in hepatocellular carcinoma. J Hepatol 2016; 64: 1256-64. #Equal contribution. *Co-corresponding authors.

  • Wong CM*, Lai W, Law CT, Ho DW, Tsang FH, Au SL, Sze KM, Lee JM, Wong CC, Ng IO*. Upregulation of histone methyltransferase SETDB1 expression by multiple mechanisms in hepatocellular carcinoma promotes cancer metastasis. Hepatology 2016; 63:474-87. *Co-corresponding authors.

  • Lo J, Lau EY, Ching RH, Ng IO*, Lee TK*. NF-KB mediated CD47 upregulation promotes sorafenib resistance and its blockade synergizes the effect of sorafenib in hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatology 2015; 62: 534–545. *Co-corresponding authors.

  • Lee TK*#, Cheung VC#, Lu P, Lau EY, Ma S, Tang KH, Tong C, Ng IO*. Blockade of CD47 mediated CTSS-PAR2 signaling provides a therapeutic target for hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatology 2014;60:179-91. *Co-corresponding authors. #Equal contribution.

  • Wong CC, Tse AP, Huang YP, Zhu YT, Chiu DK, Au SL, Kai AK, Lee JM, Wei LL, Tsang FH, Lo RC, Shi J, Zheng YP, Wong CM, Ng IO. Deregulation of Lysyl Oxidase-Like 2 is critical to tumor microenvironment and metastatic niche formation in hepatocellular carcinoma metastasis. Hepatology 2014; 60:1645-58.

  • Sze KM, Chu GK, Mak QH, Lee JM, Ng IO. Proline-rich acidic protein 1 (PRAP1) is a novel interacting partner of MAD1 and has suppressive role in mitotic checkpoint signaling in HCC. J Pathol 2014; 233:51-60.

  • Wong CM#, Wong CC#, Lee JMF, Fan DNY, Au SLK, Ng IO. Sequential alterations of miRNA expression in hepatocellular carcinoma development and venous metastasis. Hepatology 2012; 55:1453-61.  (Featured on cover) (Faculty of 1000 (F1000) - the top 2% of published articles in biology and medicine). #Equal contribution.

  • 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

  • Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Associate Editor)
  • Hepatology (Associate Editor) (2018-2021)
  • Journal of Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology (International Consultant)
  • Liver Cancer
  • EBioMedicine
  • Oncogenesis
  • Genes and Cancer
  • Liver Cancer International