Ch'ng Toh Hean


CH’NG, Toh Hean

CH’NG, Toh Hean
Nanyang Assistant Professor

Office: Proteos, 61 Biopolis Drive, #04-10B
Telephone:+65 6592 3844



  • Ph.D. (Molecular Biology) Princeton University
  • B.Sc. (Biology) Davidson College


CH’NG Toh Hean is an assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University and jointly appointed by the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCSoM) and the School of Biological Sciences (SBS). Toh Hean was awarded the Nanyang Assistant Professorship (NAP) in 2014.
Ch’ng Toh Hean obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and minor in Biochemistry from Davidson College in North Carolina where he studied flagellar proteins in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii with Dr. Malcolm Campbell. He then completed his doctoral research at Princeton University, New Jersey in the laboratory of Dr. Lynn Enquist studying the molecular mechanism of trans neuronal spread of alphaherpesviruses in the nervous system. For his postdoctoral fellowship, he worked in the laboratory of Dr. Kelsey Martin at UCLA studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms of learning and memory.

Research Interest

Our laboratory employs a multidisciplinary approach using different neuronal preparations to study the molecular and cellular underpinnings of memory formation. We will use various assays and techniques in cell biology, protein biochemistry, live cell imaging, proteomics and next generation sequencing to study signal transduction pathways from the synapse to the nucleus during experience-dependent neuronal plasticity. By understanding the fundamental biology of how memories are encoded in the brain, we can develop more effective and targeted therapies for a variety of neurological and neurodegenerative disorders.

i) Synapse to nucleus signal transduction
We want to understand how different signals associated with long-lasting forms of neuronal plasticity are relayed to the nucleus to alter gene expression. Research projects include a) identifying synaptic proteins that undergo regulated nuclear import; b) studying the cell biology of long distance retrograde transport of synaptic proteins that translocate to the nucleus; c) characterizing the nuclear import machinery responsible for synapse to nucleus translocation; d) uncovering the various synaptic stimuli that trigger synapse to nuclear translocation of different subsets of proteins.

ii) Gene expression during long-term neuronal plasticity
Distal synaptic signals that arrive at the nucleus can initiate a transcriptional response that alters synaptic connectivity between neurons. We will focus our research on a) identifying changes in gene expression that are responsible for establishing long-lasting forms of neuronal plasticity; b) understanding how distinct spatial and temporal presentation of distal stimuli can trigger specific gene expression and c) how expression of new genes can produce long lasting structural and functional changes in neurons associated with long term plasticity.
CH’NG, Toh Hean
Figure legend: Left: Confocal image of a rodent hippocampal neuron labeled with antibodies detecting MAP2 (red), PSD95 (green), Synaptophysin (cyan) and Hoechst nuclear dye (blue). Center: A pseudo color confocal image of dissociated adult rat hippocampal neurons (>21 days post-plating). Neuronal cell bodies are immunolabeled in white while the dendritic processes are labeled in deep purple. Right: A field of CA1 pyramidal neurons in an organotypic hippocampal slice culture. Neurons were stimulated with a cocktail of reagents to trigger long term potentiation before being fixed and stained with antibodies detecting MAP2 (red) and CRTC1 (green).