Khai Chung Ang, PhD


Research Associate & Scientific Director, Zebrafish Functional Genomics Core

Assistant Professor & Scientific Director, Zebrafish Functional Genomics Core


Khai Chung Ang joined the lab in 2009 as a postdoc and appointed to the position Research Associate in 2014 . After earning his B.Sc. (Bio) in 2003, he began graduate school researching the “Molecular Phylogenetics of the Orang Asli in Malaysia,” which is the first phylogenetics study among the Malaysian native populations. In 2009, he earned his Ph.D. in Genetics from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Malaysia. Combining anthropology and genetics, KC researches human migration, adaptation, and pigmentation for the East Asian skin color project (EASCoP), which began in 2005.

KC’s graduate work with the aboriginal people of Malaysia (the Orang Asli) put him in a unique position to collaborate with Dr. Cheng on the EASCoP: during his graduate studies, he spent 6 years building trust and developing mutual respect with the Orang Asli. This relationship allowed him to collect human DNA and phenotypic data from them and bring it to the States for analysis. Using this data, the EASCoP team are searching for the derived alleles that are fixed in East Asians, which we believe will give us insight into the melanoma discrepancy between Europeans and East Asians, explained in more detail on the EASCoP page. This project has taken him and his team across the globe to study another native population in the Commonwealth of Dominica: the Kalinago. The team is currently waiting for approval from the Dominican government to collect data from the Kalinago population. Both of these populations share a similar genetic ancestry due to recent migration out of East Asia.  Studying two populations from different geographical locations (Malaysia and Dominica) will allow the team to mutually validate the candidate alleles as ancient and widespread primary EAS mutations.

KC also serves as the Scientific Director of the Penn State Zebrafish Functional Genomics Core since July 2014.