As a stem cell biologist, I aim to understand the mechanisms through which stem cells differentiate into progressively specialized cell types and to harness this knowledge to artificially generate pure populations of desired cell types from stem cells. My work over the past ten years has centered on pluripotent stem cells (PSCs, which include embryonic and pluripotent stem cells), which can generate any of the hundreds of diverse cell types in the body. However, it has been notoriously challenging to guide PSCs to differentiate into a pure population of a given cell type. Current differentiation strategies typically generate heterogeneous cell populations unsuitable for basic research or clinical applications. To address this challenge, I mapped the cascade of branching lineage choices through which PSCs differentiate into various endodermal and mesodermal cell types. I then developed effective methods to differentiate PSCs into specific lineages by providing the extracellular signal(s) that specify a given lineage while inhibiting the signals that induce the alternate fate(s), enabling the generation of highly-pure human heart and bone (Loh & Chen et al., 2016; Cell) and liver (Loh & Ang et al., 2014; Cell Stem Cell) from PSCs. My laboratory currently focuses on differentiating human PSCs into liver progenitors (Ang et al., 2018; Cell Reports) and blood vessel cells (Ang et al., 2022; Cell).
I earned my Ph.D. jointly from the University of Cambridge and A*STAR and was subsequently appointed as a Research Fellow and, later, a Senior Research Fellow at the Genome Institute of Singapore. I then moved my laboratory to Stanford University as a Siebel Investigator and Instructor at the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine. My laboratory has been supported by the Siebel Investigatorship, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and other sources.