microLife Poster Prize: Hoi Ching Cheung

We send our congratulations to Hoi Ching Cheung, who won the Best Poster Prize at ETOX 2023 in Scotland. This award is sponsored by our journal microLife.

ETOX is a label for a well-established and reputed series of “European Workshops on Bacterial Protein Toxins” initiated in 1983. This took place on June 25 – June 29 2023.

Read our interview with Hoi Ching about her research below:


What is your current position, and what was your scientific journey to get there?

I am a PhD student at Prof Marek Basler’s group at the Biozentrum, University of Basel. I was born and raised in Hong Kong and went to Imperial College London (UK) for my Bachelor’s and Master’s studies. Then I accepted the PhD student position here in Basel and have been living in Switzerland for 2.5 years now. It is exciting that I have the opportunity to live in different countries while pursuing my passion in science.


Could you describe the research your poster covered?

My project focuses on the switch between anti-bacterial and anti-eukaryotic Type VI Secretion Systems of an intracellular pathogen – Burkholderia thailandensis. This bacterial species mainly resides in the soil and water, but it can also infect mammalians. Type VI Secretion System (T6SS) is a bacterial contractile nano-machine that delivers protein effectors, in which B. thailandensis has five different T6SS clusters and each with a different function. When this bacterium transitions from being in the environment to infecting host cells, it must be able to sense its environment and regulate its T6SS accordingly. I study the regulation of its anti-bacterial and anti-eukaryotic T6SS using live-cell imaging of the bacteria in vitro and during infection of host cells.

Hoi Ching Cheung receiving her prize certificate from the organisers of ETOX


What do you hope to focus your research on in the future?

I have always been fascinated by host-pathogen interactions. Particularly, I am interested in uncovering the interplay between bacterial virulence factors and host immune response. Not only it is fun to understand how bacteria attach to host cells, survive intracellularly and persist, I believe it would also provide insights into future therapeutic developments.


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