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Dawn Koh

Senior Lecturer

Telephone: +65 6499 4594
Room Number: 1.302-27
Research Areas:
Bio-Medical Engineering


Dr. Koh received her Ph.D. from the National University of Singapore and has been in the Neurosciences field for the past 10 years. As part of her graduate studies, she successfully identified and characterized the function of a novel component (sputa nerve growth factor; sputa NGF) from the venom of a spitting cobra and its role in stimulating neurite formation in cultured cells. In 2007, Dr. Koh was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to pursue postdoctoral research at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland (USA). She investigated the role of neuro-receptors (Trks) in diseased conditions (e.g. stroke, cancer) using genetically modified mouse models. In addition, she also investigated the regulation of Trks neuro-receptors under normal physiological conditions. Findings from her work were published in international peer-reviewed journals.

Apart from scientific research, Dr. Koh enjoys teaching and interacting with students. She taught several lab courses, mentored and trained students in the techniques of molecular biology and neuroscience both in Singapore and America. Dr. Koh communicates her passion for Biology in an enthusiastic, fun and engaging manner and is involved in community events that promote the Sciences. She has been an invited speaker and workshop presenter at various high school career fairs while she was in Maryland, USA. As President of a Toastmasters International Club in Maryland, Dr. Koh further honed her public speaking and leadership skills. She obtained the Competent Communicator Award in 2010. In the course of her career development, she participated and completed the following courses: “Scientist teaching Science” and “Advanced Project Management” (NIH, Bethesda, MD); “Chief Scientific Officer Management” (Montgomery College, Germantown, MD).

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.  (Biochemistry) National University of Singapore, 2007
  • BSc (Honors 2nd Class Upper; Biomedical Science) National University of Singapore, 2002

Research Interests

Trained in the field of biomedical science, Dr. Koh enjoys pursuing translational research projects where the research findings discovered in the laboratory has immediate clinical relevance. Her areas of interest are: neurobiology, oncology, physiology and pharmacology.

Receptor proteins play dynamic roles in various cell functions and are involved in regulating multiple pathways. When their delicate regulation is disturbed, it often leads to manifestation of diseases such as cancer. Dr. Koh seeks to understand how receptor proteins are regulated under normal physiological conditions and identify the factors and conditions that disrupt their regulation. The understanding of receptor proteins will enable the development of targeted approaches to control the aberrant levels that might trigger diseased conditions.

Dr. Koh is interested in biomedical research that relates fundamental sciences to clinical findings.Disease development usually involves a combination of intrinsic (e.g. genetics) and extrinsic (e.g. lifestyle and environment) factors. Most of her research has been at the intrinsic (genetic) level and she excited to explore collaborations that investigate the role of extrinsic factors in diseases. She has expertise in molecular biology approaches, animal studies, micro-array and protein profiling techniques.

Awards and Achievements

  • National University of Singapore (NUS) University Scholars Program  (1998-2002)
  • NUS Research Scholarship (2002-2006)
  • Selected and featured in NUS centennial documentary (2005)
  • NUS Research Fee Award (2006-2007)
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) Visiting Postdoctoral Fellowship (2007-2011)
  • Toastmasters International Competent Communicator Award (2010)

Key Publications

  • Kiris E, Nuss JE, Burnett JC, Kota KP, Koh DC, Wanner LM, Torres-Melendez E, Gussio R, Tessarollo L, Bavari S. 2011.  Embryonic stem cell-derived motor neurons provide a highly sensitive cell culture model for botulinum neurotoxin studies, with implications for high-throughput drug discovery. Stem Cell Res6(3):195-205
  • Armugam A, Cher CD, Lim K, Koh DC, Howells DW and Jeyaseelan K. 2009. A secretory phospholipase A2-mediated neuroprotection and anti-apoptosis. BMC Neurosci. 10:120.
  • Jeyaseelan D, Chai SC, Tok PL, Armugam A, Koh DC-I and Jeyaseelan K. 2008. Pharmacology, Poisons, Venoms and Toxins. Edited by Harry Majewski in Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS). Developed under the Auspices of the UNESCO, ELOSS publishers, Oxford, UK. (
  • Koh DC-I, Armugam A and Jeyaseelan K. 2006. Snake venom components and their applications in biomedicine. Cellular and molecular life sciences63: 3030-3041.
  • Koh DC-I, Armugam A and Jeyaseelan K. 2004. Sputa nerve growth factor forms a preferable substitute to mouse 7S-bnerve growth factor. Biochem J382: 1-10.
  • Wang Y, Hung C, Koh D, Cheong D and Hooi SC. 2001. Differential expression of Hox A5 in human colon cancer cell differentiation: a quantitative study using real-time PCR. Int J Oncol18 (3): 617-622.