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1984 …2023

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Personal profile

Research interests

In summary, Dr. Keith Cheng's research interests currently include phage genetics, E. coli genetics, recombination, cancer genetics, model system genetics, human genetics, human population genetics, genomics, phenomics, anatomic pathology, computational phenomics, automated phenotyping, microCT, synchrotron microCT, high-throughput imaging, machine learning, skin pigmentation, race, natural selection, social selection, music and medicine, piano, violin, classical music, chamber music, public media and web-based resources.

The Cheng lab is interested in making fundamental contributions to the understanding of genetic and molecular mechanisms involved in human biology and disease. The lab is interested in genetic aspects of human disease, use of model systems such as the zebrafish, contribution to web-based scientific resources and new, potentially high-throughput forms of 3D imaging.

Some of the Cheng lab's specific work is aimed at increasing understanding of the basis of phenotypic variability, particularly as it may impact cancer; basic mechanisms underlying the relationship between human skin pigmentation and skin cancer; contributing to web-based infrastructures for science, education and public service; and working toward a 3D derivative of histology that also allows the identification and characterization of all cell types but utilizes the computer to define slice angle, thickness, point of view  and definition of tissues of interest. Obvious implications include automation of phenotyping, including diagnostics.

Teaching and educational interests

As a student of the history of science, Dr. Cheng has been fascinated with the discovery of the cell, the cellular basis of disease, and of 2D and 3D imaging. He loves to teach students about the scientific progress of asking what we think might be important questions, how those questions have been posed and answered elegantly, leading to discovery, including Nobel prizes. From his own career, he has been fascinated by the role of serendipity in science, including the role of chance encounters with other scientists during one's career.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

External positions

Co-Chair, Validation of Animal Models of Human Biology and Disease, NIH, Office of Research Infrastructure and Programs



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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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