Health is a major component of human life. World Health Organization has defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. This definition emphasizes that good health does not confine only to the disease-free state. It also emphasizes the importance of mental and social well-being.
In appreciation of the importance of health, Chulalongkorn University has established the “CU Health Research Cluster”. The main objectives are to conduct comprehensive research programs which increase our understanding of disease processes and to develop new methods for diagnosis and treatment. We focus mainly on pathological conditions that are highly prevalent in our country and this region.
Organization and Activities
To accomplish the above objectives, we organize the CU health researches into two main research themes, namely the disease based researches and medical innovation development.
Disease based researches. This research area covers communicable and non-communicable diseases, especially those with high prevalence. Concerning communicable diseases, our research teams investigate the emerging, re-emerging diseases and important viral diseases in the country. Studied pathological virus included those causing avian Flu (H5N1 and low pathogenic avian influenza A (LPAI), acute Hemorrhagic fever (chikungunya), hand, mouth and foot disease, hepatitis (HBV) and Influenza A virus: H1N1, H3N2 and H1N1(2009), Piconavirus, Rhinovirus C, Human Astrovirus, Norovirus, Rotavirus, etc. We also investigate the pathogenesis and clinical profiles of zoonotic diseases, e.g. rabies, acute hemorrhagic fever, JE encephalitis, etc. Another example is the research in HIV-AIDS and co-infection.
Cancer is our main interest regarding the non-communicable disease. Our oncology research team investigates the biology and clinical pattern of high prevalent cancer in Thailand, such as hepatocarcinoma, lung cancer (especially non-small cell), bladder cancer, etc.
Center of Excellence
Center of Excellence in Immunology and Immune-mediated diseases
Center of Excellence in Immunology and Immune-mediated diseases was established from the Lupus Research Unit, which has been conducting research work since 2005 by an expert team who are interested in lupus. The team is multidisciplinary, includingspecialists in immunology, nephrology, dermatology, genetics, molecular biology and clinical pharmacology. In addition, it is a multi-center collaboration between the Faculties of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University, Thammasat University and Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, the latter being the source of patients with symptoms in various systems.
There are three major research plans:
I. Molecular genetic studies
II. Diagnostic & prognostic marker development (molecular & immunological markers)
III. Patient registry / database management & clinical trials (multi-center)
At present, the center also extends its research to other diseases that have an immune- mediated pathogenesis and are health problems in the country. These include psoriasis, which is the most common chronic skin disorder caused by self-antisera and may have severe effects on other organs as well. Chronic hepatitis, which leads to cirrhosis and liver cancer, is also a major problem in the Thai population, where the main pathogenesis is not caused by direct viral destruction, but rather by an abnormal immune response. Infectious disease in the bloodstream (sepsis) is another major cause of death in patients with severe immune responses. In addition, the immune system is an important pathogenesis for cell and organ transplantation, which is the ultimate treatment of many chronic diseases today.
The center specializes in finding biomarkers for early disease diagnosis, to predict the severity and complications of the disease, and to predict the response to treatment based on molecular biology and immunology technologies. The primary objective is to develop an accurate and personalized patient diagnosis and treatment, or personalized therapy. Moreover, a greater understanding of the mechanism of disease will lead to the development of new therapies as well as future prevention of disease.
Key Publications (2016-2017)
1: Cannizzaro L, Rossoni G, Savi F, Altomare A, Marinello C, Saethang T, Carini M, Payne DM, Pisitkun T, Aldini G, Leelahavanichkul A. Regulatory landscape of AGE-RAGE- oxidative stress axis and its modulation by PPARγ activation in high fructose diet-induced metabolic syndrome. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2017 Jan 13;14:5.
2: Surawut S, Ondee T, Taratummarat S, Palaga T, Pisitkun P, Chindamporn A, Leelahavanichkul A. The role of macrophages in the susceptibility of Fc gamma receptor IIb deficient mice to Cryptococcus neoformans. Sci Rep. 2017 Jan 11;7:40006.
3: Panich T, Chancharoenthana W, Somparn P, Issara-Amphorn J, Hirankarn N, Leelahavanichkul A. Urinary exosomal activating transcriptional factor 3 as the early diagnostic biomarker for sepsis-induced acute kidney injury. BMC Nephrol. 2017 Jan 7;18(1):10.
4: Ondee T, Surawut S, Taratummarat S, Hirankan N, Palaga T, Pisitkun P, Pisitkun T, Leelahavanichkul A. FC Gamma Receptor IIB Deficient Mice: A Lupus Model with Increased Endotoxin Tolerance-Related Sepsis Susceptibility. Shock. 2016 Nov 15. [Epub ahead of print]
5: Leelahavanichkul A, Worasilchai N, Wannalerdsakun S, Jutivorakool K, Somparn P, Issara-Amphorn J, Tachaboon S, Srisawat N, Finkelman M, Chindamporn A. Gastrointestinal Leakage Detected by Serum (1→3)-β-D- Glucan in Mouse Models and a Pilot Study in Patients with Sepsis. Shock. 2016 Nov;46(5):506-518.
6: Kunanopparat A, Kimkong I, Palaga T, Tangkijvanich P, Sirichindakul B, Hirankarn N. Increased ATG5-ATG12 in hepatitis B virus-associated hepatocellular carcinoma and their role in apoptosis. World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Oct 7;22(37):8361-8374.
7: Leelahavanichkul A, Panpetch W, Worasilchai N, Somparn P, Chancharoenthana W, Nilgate S, Finkelman M, Chindamporn A, Tumwasorn S. Evaluation of gastrointestinal leakage using serum (1→3)-β-D- glucan in a Clostridium difficile murine model. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2016 Sep;363(18).
8: Khanuntong S, Kuptawintu P, Upaisilpsathaporn K, Poolchareon A, Bunworasate U, Hirankarn N. The effect of missing KIR ligands, activating KIR genotype and haplotype on the outcome of T-cell- replete hematopoietic stem cell transplantation from HLA-identical siblings in Thai patients. HLA. 2016 Jun;87(6):422-31.
9: Vadcharavivad S, Praisuwan S, Techawathanawanna N, Treyaprasert W, Avihingsanon Y. Population pharmacokinetics of tacrolimus in Thai kidney transplant patients: comparison with similar data from other populations. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2016 Jun;41(3):310-28.
10: Yüksel Ş, Kucukazman SO, Karataş GS, Ozturk MA, Prombhul S, Hirankarn N. Methylation Status of Alu and LINE-1 Interspersed Repetitive Sequences in Behcet's Disease Patients. Biomed Res Int. 2016;2016:1393089.
11: Thipmanee O, Numnuam A, Limbut W, Buranachai C, Kanatharana P, Vilaivan T, Hirankarn N, Thavarungkul P. Enhancing capacitive DNA biosensor performance by target overhang with application on screening test of HLA-B*58:01 and HLA-B*57:01 genes. Biosens Bioelectron. 2016 Aug 15;82:99-104.
12: Kupatawintu P, Tatawatorn A, Premasathian N, Avihingsanon Y, Leelahavanichkul A, Hirankarn N. Association between flow cytometric crossmatching and graft survival in Thai cadaveric-donor kidney transplantation. Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2016 Mar;34(1):86-93.
13: Kunanopparat A, Hirankarn N, Kittigul C, Tangkijvanich P, Kimkong I. Autophagy machinery impaired interferon signalling pathways to benefit hepatitis B virus replication. Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2016 Mar;34(1):77-85.
14: Leelahavanichkul A, Somparn P, Issara-Amphorn J, Eiam-ong S, Avihingsanon Y, Hirankarn N, Srisawat N. Serum Neutrophil Gelatinase Associated Lipocalin (NGAL) Outperforms Serum Creatinine in Detecting Sepsis- Induced Acute Kidney Injury, Experiments on Bilateral Nephrectomy and Bilateral Ureter Obstruction Mouse Models. Shock. 2016 May;45(5):570-6.
15: Anutrakulchai S, Panaput T, Wongchinsri J, Chaishayanon S, Satirapoj B, Traitanon O, Pima W, Rukrung C, Thinkhamrop B, Avihingsanon Y. A multicentre, randomised controlled study of enteric-coated mycophenolate sodium for the treatment of relapsed or resistant proliferative lupus nephritis: an Asian experience. Lupus Sci Med. 2016 Jan 14;3(1):e000120.
16: Kongkavitoon P, Tangkijvanich P, Hirankarn N, Palaga T. Hepatitis B Virus HBx Activates Notch Signaling via Delta-Like 4/Notch1 in Hepatocellular Carcinoma. PLoS One. 2016 Jan 14;11(1):e0146696.
17: Leelahavanichkul A, Pongpirul K, Thongbor N, Worasilchai N, Petphuak K, Thongsawang B, Towannang P, Lorvinitnun P, Sukhontasing K, Katavetin P, Praditpornsilpa K, Eiam-Ong S, Chindamporn A, Kanjanabuch T.(1→3)-β-d- Glucan and Galactomannan for Differentiating Chemical "Black Particles" and Fungal Particles Inside Peritoneal Dialysis Tubing. Perit Dial Int. 2016 Jul-Aug;36(4):402- 9.
18: Tantivitayakul P, Benjachat T, Somparn P, Leelahavanichkul A, Kittikovit V, Hirankarn N, Pisitkun T, Avihingsanon Y. Elevated expressions of myeloid-related proteins-8 and -14 are danger biomarkers for lupus nephritis. Lupus. 2016 Jan;25(1):38-45.
Key Contact Person
Professor Nattiya Hirankarn, MD, PhD
Director, Center of Excellence in Immunology and Immune-mediated diseases
Tel.: +662-256- 4132
Fax: +662-252- 5952
Center of Excellence in Vaccine Research and Development
The Center of Excellence in Vaccine Research and Development was established under the expert supervision from Prof. Kiat Ruxrungtham, who has been conducting vaccine research work and has gathered the professors and researchers interested in the research and development of vaccines. The research focus on both infectious and non-infectious disease vaccines, including HIV, Dengue, Leptospirosis and house dust mite allergy.
Chula Vaccine Research Center (Chula VRC) collaborates with several faculties within Chulalongkorn University (Faculty of Medicine, Pharmaceutical Science, Veterinary Science and Science) and several Universities in Thailand (Chiangmai University and KMUTT). In addition, we also have an international collaboration with Vaccine Research Center (VRC), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institute of Health (USA); Department of Adjuvant and Antigen Research, U.S. Military HIV Research Program, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (USA) and others.
The mission of Chula VRC is to “Discover, develop and deliver safe, effective and affordable vaccines” for domestic use in Thailand and our neighboring low-income countries.
- Ketloy C, Keelapang P, Prompetchara E, Suphatrakul A, Puttikhunt C, Kasinrerk W, Konishi E, Sittisombut N, Ruxrungtham K. Strategies to improve the immunogenicity of prM+E dengue virus type-2 DNA vaccine. Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2017 Mar;35(1):11-19.
- Umthong S, Buaklin A, Jacquet A, Sangjun N, Kerdkaew R, Patarakul K, Palaga T. Immunogenicity of a DNA and Recombinant Protein Vaccine Combining LipL32 and Loa22 for Leptospirosis Using Chitosan as a Delivery System. J MicrobiolBiotechnol. 2015 Apr 28;25(4):526-36.
- Bouaziz A, Walgraffe D, Bouillot C, Herman J, Foguenne J, Gothot A, Louis R, Hentges F, Jacquet A, Mailleux AC, Chevigné A, Galleni M, Adam E, Dumez ME. Development of recombinant stable house dust mite allergen Der p 3 molecules for component-resolved diagnosis and specific immunotherapy. Clin Exp Allergy. 2015 Apr;45(4):823-34.
- Prompetchara E, Ketloy C, Keelapang P, Sittisombut N, Ruxrungtham K. The immunogenicity of tetravalent dengue DNA vaccine in mice pre-exposed to Japanese encephalitis or Dengue virus antigens. Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2015; 33:182-188.
- Buaklin A, Palaga T, Hannaman D, Kerdkaew R, Patarakul K, Jacquet A. Optimization of the immunogenicity of a DNA vaccine encoding a bacterial outer membrane lipoprotein. MolBiotechnol. 2014 Oct;56(10):903-10.
- Pornsuriyasak P, Suwatanapongched T, Klaewsongkram J, Buranapraditkun S,
Rotjanapan P. Acute respiratory failure secondary to eosinophilic pneumonia following influenza vaccination in an elderly man with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Int J Infect Dis. 2014 Sep; 26:14-6.
- Prompetchara E, Ketloy C, Keelapang P, Sittisombut N, Ruxrungtham K. Induction of neutralizing antibody response against four dengue viruses in mice by intramuscular electroporation of tetravalent DNA vaccines. PlosOne. 2014; 9: 1-6.
- Pulsawat P, Jacquet A. Is electroporation decisive for the efficacy of DNA vaccine against house dust mite allergy? Expert Rev Vaccines. 2013 Sep;12(9):977-9.
- Pulsawat P, Pitakpolrat P, Prompetchara E, Kaewamatawong T, Techakriengkrai N, Sirivichayakul S, Buranapraditkun S, Hannaman D, Ruxrungtham K, Jacquet A. Optimization of a Der p 2-based prophylactic DNA vaccine against house dust mite allergy. Immunol Lett. 2013 Mar;151(1-2):23-30.
Key Contact Person
Center of Excellence for Microcirculation
The Center of Excellence for Microcirculation was established from the research unit for microcirculation 7 years ago. Our objective is to be the leader in microcirculation in Thailand, to build up a new generation of microcirculatory researchers and to produce social impact research outcomes. The research teams can be described as: (i) diabetic induced microvascular dysfunction, (ii) tumor angiogenesis, (iii) cerebrovascular dysfunction in the aging population and (iv) biomedical engineering products and their applications for diabetic wounds or anti-tumor.
● Human Xenografts Tumor Mice Model
● Stem cells (MSCs) and diabetic wound healing
● Prevent cerebrovascular dysfunction from aging by exercise or herbal antioxidants
● Develop novel biomedical engineering products for therapeutic or drug delivery applications
Key Contact Person
Prof. Suthiluk Patumraj, Ph.D.
TEL.: +66-22- 252-7854 Ext. 2032
FAX: +66-22- 256-4267
Sports Science and Health Enhancement Center
The Sport Science and Health Enhancement Center is equipped with latest equipment in exercise physiology, biomechanics and athletic performance training for the support of research in sports science, athletic performance and development, and physiological testing and evaluation.
The center is conducting research in exercise physiology with emphasis in the areas of the cardiopulmonary response to physical stress, vascular adaptation to acute and chronic exercise training and neuromuscular function on human biomechanics. In addition, the center also explores the field of athletic performance, such as enhancing physical endurance, improving mechanical efficiency and increasing physical strength in various sports. Our sports science faculty members are interested in exploring how specific training techniques, such as strength training, plyometric training, and intensive interval training, can result in the improvement in athletic performance.
- Cardiopulmonary response to exercise training in special populations.
- Physiological adaptation and vascular response to exercise stimulus in healthy and disease individuals.
- Program design on athletic performance.
- Biomechanical factors that influence athletic performance and achievement.
- Exercise training and environment constraint
Key Contact Person
Assistant Professor Sitha Phongphibool
Link out websites
Center of Excellence for Medical Genetics and Genomics (CEMGG)
Medical Genetics: From patients to developmental biology and back to clinical applications
The CEMGG receives research questions from routine daily clinical practice, ranging from “What is the diagnosis?” “What is my son’s prognosis?” “How to treat my child?” to “How can we prevent the disease to recur in our next children?”. With in-depth studies, the new body of knowledge gained in the CEMGG has been applied to benefit the patients, their families and other human beings. The research works are summarized below.
1. Diagnosis. The CEMGG has developed and applied laboratory techniques to give definite diagnoses to key diseases, using molecular genetic techniques for mutation detection and validation of their pathogenicity. This has identified several mutations which had never been previously reported, and suggests the importance of key amino acid residues in the polypeptide chains. Common mutations in several diseases in the Thai populations were found, which enables diagnostic laboratory tests for screening for common mutations, instead of searching the whole gene for causative mutations. The identified mutations could also be used for prenatal diagnosis of the next pregnancies.
The CEMGG is the country’s leader in applying Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology to clinical practice (clinical genome and exome sequencing) and medical research. One of the CEMGG’s prominent works is the identification of germline and somatic DICER1 mutations in pituitary blastoma, which was published in the J Clin Endocrinol Metab (Impact Factor 6.31).
In addition to the molecular genetics techniques, the CEMGG uses biochemical methods, such as gas chromatography/mass spectrometry to diagnose inborn errors of metabolism.
2. Identification of the causative genes and study of their pathogenesis so as to better understand clinical manifestations, clinical courses and prognoses.
The CEMGG has identified or confirmed the etiologic roles of many disease genes, including those causing oral clefts. They hypothesized that genes causing dysmorphic syndromes might cause isolated birth defects, and vice versa. This hypothesis led to the identification of many genes involved in oral clefts, amastia and systemic lupus erythematosus. An outstanding work is the identification of MBTPS2 as a gene for X-linked osteogenesis imperfecta, published in Nature Communications (impact factor 11.5) and the identification of SATB2 as a gene for a novel dysmorphic syndrome, published in Human Mutation.
Regarding studies of mechanistic pathogenesis, the team has studied the pathomechanism of split hand/split foot malformation syndrome and found for the first time that the DLX5 and DLX6 genes in human osteoblasts are expressed only from the paternal alleles (maternal imprinted genes), published in Journal of Medical Genetics with an impact factor of 6.3.
3. Prognosis. One of the applications of pharmacogenetics and pharmacogenomics is to predict whether a patient would have severe adverse drug reactions to a certain medication. The CEMGG confirmed the association between carbamazepine-induced severe cutaneous reactions and HLA-B*1502 in the Thai population. This finding was published in Epilepsia in 2008 and has over 200 citations. They also studied drugs for HIV and leukemia, and found that the appropriate doses of some drugs for Thai patients should be different from Caucasians because of their different genetic composition.
4. Prevention and treatment. The CEMGG has studied and campaigned for the use of folic acid in reproductive aged women prior to conception to decrease the incidence of birth defects. When pregnant, the CEMGG can offer molecular genetic techniques for detection of the mutation run in that particular family. Via collaboration with other teams around the world, the CEMGG is developing genome editing techniques for gene therapy of diseases which can be cured by bone marrow transplantation without available donors.
Key Contact Person
Professor Vorasuk Shotelersuk
Omics Sciences and Bioinformatics Center
Omics is an integrative biology research in which all the biological data acquired from various studies, including genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics, are extensively gathered, integrated and analyzed to understand the biological nature of living organisms. Therefore, we established a new research organization named the Omics Sciences and Bioinformatics Center at Chulalongkorn University to provide high-quality, cutting-edge and comprehensive Omics research services using next-generation sequencers and advanced bioinformatics pipelines combined with a high-performance computer system.
1. Omics approach for target drug discovery
2. Omics approach for control shrimp diseases
3. Study of abiotic stress tolerance in rice by omics approach
4. Study of metabolomics in plants and bacteria
5. Analysis of Novosphingobium sp, PCY genome and metabolic pathway for aromatic hydrocarbon degradation
6. Database for human, marine and industrial microbiomes
7. Omics database structure and software development
Key Contact Person
Professor Dr. Anchalee Tassanakajon
Work-related Musculoskeletal Injury Research Unit
The objectives of this research unit are primarily to conduct research to advance our understanding on work-related musculoskeletal injuries, to develop innovations to improve work effectiveness and the quality of life in workers, and to develop contents in undergraduate and post-graduate curriculums to enhance the graduates’ ability to manage work-related musculoskeletal injuries. Also, the research unit provides a consultation service to manage work-related musculoskeletal injuries for organizations as well as a physical therapy clinic to manage patients with work-related musculoskeletal injuries.
- Exercise programs to prevent neck and low back pain in office workers (or Offixercise®)
- Smart-phone application to calculate daily walking steps to prevent neck and low back pain in office workers
- Screening tools for neck and low back pain with disability in office workers
- Health literacy questionnaire for predicting non-specific neck pain in office worker
- Handbooks to self-manage neck and low back pain in office workers
Key Contact Person
Prof. Dr. Prawit Janwantanakul
Tel: (work) 02 218 3767, (mobile) 089 789 5995
Fax: (work) 02 218 3766
Cell-based Drug and Health Product Development Research Unit (CDD)
The Cell-based Drug and Health Product Development Research Unit covers various fields of cell-based research, such as cancer, blood diseases, metabolic diseases, antioxidant and drug delivery into the cell. This research unit has faculty members and researchers who have conducted extensive research in various fields of science. The research unit has published continuous and consistent research, which is an important factor in developing the research unit, providing research knowledge and an international reference source.
The Cell-based Drug and Health Product Development Research Unit was established by collaborating faculty members and researchers and publishes papers in the ISI and SCOPUS listed journals. The current total number of publications is 111 papers, all of which are published in journals with an excellent impact factor. This illustrates the potential of a research unit. In addition, the research unit trains graduate and doctoral students to have critical knowledge, and the ability and basic knowledge for publishing. The research unit cooperates with other research institutes and is accepted nationally and internationally. For the private sector, the research unit is able to respond to the demands of the private sector to enhance the recognition and promotion of industrial development in Thailand.
Key Contact Person
Associate Professor Pithi Chanvorachote, Ph.D.
Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Science
Tel. 02-2188342 Fax. 02-2188340
Molecular Biology of Malaria and Opportunistic Parasites Research Unit
The Molecular Biology of Malaria and Opportunistic Parasites Research Unit was established in 2008, and is affiliated with Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine. Our research areas are mainly dedicated to basic and applied clinical research on both human and non-human primate malaria parasites with special emphasis on molecular epidemiology, diagnostic innovation and molecular evolution. The pioneer and cutting-edge research on Plasmodium knowlesi in Thailand has been achieved by our research team. The research unit also works on a broad range of opportunistic pathogens that cause health problems in the country, such as microsporidia, enteric coccidian protozoa, Pneumocystis and pathogenic free-living amoebae. Our research projects have been funded by the university, government budget and overseas grants.
- Molecular epidemiology of Plasmodium knowlesi in humans and macaques in Thailand
- Spatio-temporal variation and population genetics of human malaria parasites in major endemic areas of Thailand
- Genetic diversity and evolution of human and non-human primate malaria parasites
- Genotyping and diagnostic implication of enteric coccidia, microsporidia, Pneumocystis and Acanthamoeba
- Discovery of novel species or genotypes of human parasites Source of Funding: The Thailand Research Fund (TRF); Thai Government Research Budget; National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT); Ratchadapisek Sompoch Research Grant; Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor (Japan); The Asahi Glass Foundation (Japan); The Hitachi Scholarship Foundation (Japan); The National Institutes of Health (USA)
Major collaboration: Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina (USA); Department of Entomology, The Pennsylvania State University (USA); Department of Infectious Diseases, Tokai University School of Medicine (Japan); Department of Human Genetics, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo (Japan); King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center (Saudi Arabia) and other domestic and overseas universities.
Key Contact Person
Professor Dr. Somchai Jongwutiwes
Office of Research Affairs Chulalongkorn University, Chamchuri 5 Bld. 6th Fl.,
Phayathai Rd.,Wangmai, Pathumwan Bangkok 10330
E- Mail: email@example.com