Sek C Chow


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Cell death mechanisms
Antimicrobial peptides
Halomethylketone toxicity


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Professor Chow Sek Chuen completed his Doctor of Medical Science degree in Immunology from the Karolinska Institute (Sweden) in 1990. After postdoctoral research work in cancer drug development at the Mayo Clinic and Foundation (US) he returned to the Karolinska Institute to develop immunotoxicology. Following that he joined the Medical Research Council (MRC) Toxicology Unit at Leicester University (UK) as a MRC fellow before taking up a lectureship at Nottingham University (UK). In 2002, he returned to the MRC Toxicology Unit as a Group Leader in Immunotoxicology.

Professor Chow joined the School of Science, Monash University Malaysia in 2007 as an Associate Professor with a co-appointment as an adjunct Associate Professor at the Department of Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University. He served as Deputy Head of School for research in 2008 and was appointed as Professor of Biomedical Sciences in 2011. As founding director, he launched the Malaysia Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MyMAP) Accelerator in Monash University Malaysia with Agensi Inovasi Malaysia in 2011. He is one of the founding members of Malaysia Society of Toxicology (MySOT) and have served as Vice President (2010) and President (2012) for MySOT. In 2014 he was appointed as member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Institute for Research, Development and Innovation (IRDI) at International Medical University, Malaysia.

Research interests

Disruption of immunity by xenobiotics is known to have profound effects on immune function. My interest lies mainly in the understanding of how xenobiotics modulate the immune system, particularly on T lymphocytes function. T lymphocytes play an important role in the regulation of virtually all immune responses. Using various human and rodent model systems, the immunomodulatory effects of xenobiotics on many aspects of T cell biology are being investigated. All these processes have defined endpoints that are tightly regulated by signaling pathways, metabolic processes and enzyme cascades. Understanding how these molecular processes are affected by xenobiotics helps to provide a better understanding in the development of new strategies for therapeutic intervention for some immunological disorders.

Among these molecular processes, the mechanism and regulation of program cell death or apoptosis is a long-standing interest in my laboratory. In the immune system apoptosis plays a fundamental role in the normal development of lymphocytes, cytotoxic T lymphocyte and natural killer cell killing and maintenance of tissue homeostasis following immune responses. Because of this a number of diseases including most autoimmune diseases as well as AIDS are the direct result of either immunosuppression or hyperactivity of the immune system caused by inappropriate or deregulated apoptosis. In addition, many xenobiotics and infectious agents exert their immunotoxicity through the induction or inhibition of apoptosis in immune cells. Understanding these processes can provide insights into how some immunological diseases arise and offer opportunities to advance our knowledge on the molecular basis of infection and diseases in the immune system.

Another major interest is to understand the mechanisms of death and extracellular survival of the apicomplexa T. gondii.  Identification of the death effectors involved in the parasite death pathway can be exploited for anti-parasitic drug development to combat and eliminate parasites which cause widespread infections.

Monash teaching commitment

  • IMM3802 (Essentials of Applied Immunology)
  • SCI3716 (Lab and Workplace Management)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Immunology, Doctor of Medical Science, Perturbation of Ca2+ homeostasis and inhibition of growth in a leukemic T cell line by unsaturated fatty acids, Karolinska Institutet (Karolinska Institute)

Award Date: 22 May 1990

Research area keywords

  • Immunotoxicology
  • T lymphocytes
  • Cell death mechanisms
  • Toxoplasma

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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