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Engineering Biology in Cambridge


Dr Betty Chung

Assistant Professor, MRC CDA Fellow

Department of Pathology


Betty's research is centred around the translational control of protein synthesis – an essential biological process in all living organisms. Translational regulation is widespread and especially important in the cellular response to stress factors, growth cues and differentiation signals.

After undergraduate studies in Biochemistry at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, she pursued a PhD in Biochemistry at University College Cork, Ireland where she focused on elucidating non-canonical gene expression mechanisms in RNA viruses. During this time, she discovered and characterised novel mechanisms used by viruses to generate previously unknown, but essential, factors for infection.

With support from Long-Term EMBO and Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships, Betty joined the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge. There, she elucidated the ancestral mechanism of miRNA-mediated translational regulation using the green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as a model organism. Subsequently, through a Medical Research Council Career Development Fellowship, she established her research group within the Department of Pathology where she is also hold the post of Assistant Professor of Integrated Infection Biology.


The Chung group's primary focus is on investigating the molecular mechanisms of gene expression and translational control at the host-pathogen interface across various domains of life, particularly in the animal and plant kingdoms, and across multiple pathogen systems including viruses, bacteria, and eukaryotic parasites. Recent discoveries include the rapid translational induction of sentinel cells in response to osmotic changes as a mechanism to overcome infection, and the identification of novel translation mechanisms in pathogenic bacteria.

Betty's long-term scientific vision is to understand how living organisms utilise novel gene expression mechanisms to respond and adapt to the challenging and complex biosystems we live in, and how we can use these molecular discoveries to engineer biological systems for biotechnological applications to combat pathogen infection in the face of climate change.