Academic Profile : Faculty

Foo Jia Nee.jpg picture
Asst Prof Foo Jia Nee
Assistant Professor, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine

• Dr Elaine Chew, PhD, Research Fellow
• Moses Tandiono, Research Associate
• Michelle Lian Mulan, Research Associate
• Heng Yue Jing, PhD student
• Ashim Paul Deb, PhD student
• Chang Chu Hua, PhD student

Assistant Professor Foo Jia Nee is a Nanyang Assistant Professor at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine), Nanyang Technological University (NTU). She also has joint appointments as a Senior Research Scientist (Principal Investigator) at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), A*STAR and as a Visiting Scientist at the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI).

Asst Prof Foo did her Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Biotechnology at Imperial College London and her PhD in Genetics at the Yale University School of Medicine. During her PhD training at Yale with Prof. Richard P. Lifton, she analysed rare coding variants in renal salt handling genes for a role in blood pressure variation and hypertension risk in the Framingham Heart Study cohort. She did her postdoctoral training at the GIS, working with Dr Liu Jianjun on whole-exome sequencing and genome-wide association studies of Parkinson’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, IgA nephropathy and other rare skin and childhood neurological diseases. She has published over 120 papers in international peer-reviewed journals, including Nature Genetics, JAMA Neurology, American Journal of Human Genetics, Nature Communications, PLoS Genetics and Nature Reviews Neurology.

She was one of the recipients of the inaugural A*STAR Biomedical Research Council Young Investigator Grant in 2013, and the prestigious National Research Foundation (NRF) fellowship in 2016.
Each of us carries coding changes in our DNA that disrupt the function of genes; many of these changes are rare in the population, and some are even unique to us and our relatives. These changes are heritable, naturally-occurring and contribute to our inter-individual differences. Asst Prof Foo’s research aims to identify these changes and use them as “experiments of nature” to gain insights into why some individuals are more susceptible to certain diseases than others. Identifying the underlying causes of such diseases will also help in the identification of new drug targets.

Her laboratory is working towards defining the full spectrum of rare and common germline genetic variation responsible for neurological diseases, with a focus on gene-disrupting variants. They are performing a rigorous interrogation of the entire protein coding regions of the human genome in large collections of patients and controls, to identify genes that are recurrently disrupted by germline variants in disease cases but not (or rarely) in controls. In collaboration with overseas brain banks, her team will also investigate the roles of somatic mutations in post-mortem diseased brain tissue, thus exploring an alternative mechanism through which gene-disrupting mutations may underlie a disease.

Her research will cover neurodegenerative diseases, childhood neurological diseases, mental health and cognition, and is also open to other genetically-tractable human traits. Newly-identified genes and variants will be followed up functionally and epidemiologically in the lab, in collaboration with other colleagues at LKCMedicine and GIS.

Research goal
  • Functional dissection of SV2C as a novel Parkinson’s disease associated gene
  • Genomic approaches to detect somatic mosaicism in Parkinson’s disease brains
  • Predisposing lineage specification via precise emulation of 3D embryonic epiblast
  • Understanding effects of remyelination on functional recovery after CNS injury