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Laboratory of Molecular Oncology

​Research head:​A/Prof Ann LEE
​Research team:

​Dr Sau Yeen LOKE

Geok Ling KOH

Munusamy PRABHAKARAN

Aldo PRAWIRA

Claire CHAN

Our group focuses on understanding breast cancer susceptibility and the development of blood-based tests for the early detection of breast cancer. Our key findings are as follows:

We have

  • Identified new breast cancer risk loci using a novel, targeted, next-generation
    sequencing strategy (Cancer Res, 2017;77:5428–5437)
  • Developed polygenic risk score models for the prediction of breast cancer risk
    (Oncotarget. 2018;9:12796–12804)
  • Performed mutational analysis using a 25-gene panel of breast cancer predisposition genes for the largest Asian series of cases at the time (Genom Med. 2016;1:15003)
  • Identified PALB2 mutations in our Singaporean patients and recommended that PALB2 be included in genetic testing for individuals eligible for BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing (N Engl J Med. 2014;371:1650–1652)
  • Reported the identification of a BRCA1 founder mutation among breast cancer
    patients of Malay ethnicity (Hum Mut. 2003;22:178)
  • Identified the first family in Singapore with Li-Fraumeni syndrome (Clin Genet.
    2009;75:294–297)
  • Developed a comprehensive screening strategy for improved BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation screening for patients with breast and/or ovarian cancer (Clin Genet, 2006;70:80–82; Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 2007;16:2276–2284; Amino Acids, 2008;35:615–626)
  • Recommended that screening for the CHEK2*1100delC mutation in Asian women with a family history of breast cancer is unwarranted, in contrast to recommendations for such screening in Northern or Eastern European women with a similar history (JClin Oncol. 2008;26:2419)
  • Identified circulating microRNA signatures for breast cancer detection (Clin Cancer Res. 2013;19:4477–4487) (Figure 1)

Our group has received funding from the National Medical Research Council (NMRC)
of Singapore, the National Cancer Centre Singapore (Centre grant and NCC Research Fund), and the Industry Alignment Fund.


Figure 1: Box-and-whisker plots representing RT-PCR results for four microRNAs. The y-axis depicts log2 fold change. These microRNAs can distinguish between serum samples from breast cancer cases (n = 132) and healthy controls (n = 101) with statistically significant P values (P<1E-8). (Clin Cancer Res. 2013;19:4477-4487

Selected publications:

  1. Chan CHT, Munusamy P, Loke SY, et al. evaluation of three polygenic risk score models for the prediction of breast cancer risk in Singapore Chinese. Oncotarget. 2018;9:12796–12804.
  2. Chan CHT, Munusamy P, Loke SY, et al. Identification of novel breast cancer risk loci. Cancer Res. 2017;77:5428–5437.
  3. Wong ESY, Shekar S, Met-Domestici M, et al. Inherited breast cancer predisposition in Asians: multigene panel testing outcomes from Singapore. NPJ Genom Med. 2016;1:15003.
  4. Lee AS, Ang P. Breast-cancer risk in families with mutations in PALB2. N Engl J Med. 2014;371:1650–1651.
  5. Yeo ZX, Wong JCL, Rozen SG, Lee ASG. Evaluation and optimisation of indel detection workflows for ion torrent sequencing of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. BMC Genomics. 2014;15:516.