DNA helix strand

Monkol Lek: How an Australian researcher is changing the genetics game

Findings could be a turning point in curing several diseases
Yale researcher Monkol Lek has overcome incredible adversity to almost singlehandedly allow us to enter previously unfathomable territory in genetic research - to manipulate the genome, change the structure and correct personal cells.

Download transcript (pdf, 170KB)

From his humble beginnings in Blacktown, growing up as a Cambodian refugee, to running a research lab at Yale – one of the world's leading universities – Monkol Lek's story is simply extraordinary.

When a rare medical condition (limb girdle muscular dystrophy) struck Monkol in his early twenties, he took matters into his own hands and retrained in human genetics at the University of Sydney at Westmead

Monkol is now at the forefront of genetic research at Yale and his findings so far have the potential to be game changing for a number of diseases.

Join us to hear him talk about his groundbreaking research at Sydney Ideas.

Monkol has been announced as one of TEDxSydney’s 2019 speakers. Sydney Ideas is pleased to partner with TEDxSydney to welcome our pioneering alumnus back to the University.

This event will be Auslan intepreted and there will be live captioning available.

This event was held on Monday 20 May at the University of Sydney.

The speakers

Monkol is an Assistant Professor of Genetics at Yale University. He leads a research group focused on researching the genetics of neuromuscular diseases and development of therapies.

He trained at the Broad Institute and Harvard Medical School, developing resources and methods to improve the genetic diagnosis of rare diseases. The includes building a resource that has been accessed more than 15 million times by rare disease researchers. He still calls Australia home and owes his success and strong work ethic to being raised as a Cambodian refugee, the youngest of seven children and educated in the public schools of Blacktown in the western suburbs of Sydney.

He did his higher education at the University of New South Wales and a PhD at the University of Sydney. In his spare time, he likes to play with his dogs, complain about anything, binge watch on Netflix and play computer games.

Professor Sandra Cooper is a neurochemist and cell biologist. She is a member of the Brain and Mind Centre, a NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and Joint Head of the Kids Neuroscience Centre at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. 

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