Dr KOON Chun Alex


(Office): Rm 138, Science Centre North Block

People AlexKoon 


(Office): (852) 3943 1393

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2012     Ph.D. University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA
2003     B.Sc. Boston College, USA


  • Senior Lecturer, School of Life Sciences
  • Assistant Director, Cell and Molecular Biology Programme (CMB)



Research Interests

  • Synaptic plasticity
  • Neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases
  • Drosophila neurobiology
  • Science communication
  • Humour as a pedagogical approach

Representative Publications (10)

Full Publication List:

  • Ngai CSB, Singh RG, Lu W, Yao L, Koon AC. Exploring the relationship between trust-building strategies and public engagement on social media during the COVID-19 outbreak. Health Communication, 2022, doi: 10.1080/10410236.2022.2055261
  • Ngai CBS, Singh RG, Lu W, Koon AC. Grappling with the COVID-19 Health Crisis: Content Analysis of Communication Strategies and Their Effects on Public Engagement on Social Media. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2020; 22(8), e21360. doi: 10.2196/21360. Corresponding author.
  • Hong H*, Koon AC*, Chen ZS, Wei Y, An Y, Li W, Lau MHY, Lau KF, Ngo JCK, Wong CH, Au-Yeung HY, Zimmerman SC, Chan HYE. AQAMAN, a bisamidine-based inhibitor of toxic protein inclusions in neurons, ameliorates cytotoxicity in polyglutamine disease models. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2019; 294(8):2757-2770. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.006307. *Co-first authors.
  • Ngai SBC, Singh RG, Koon AC. A discourse analysis of the macro-structure, metadiscoursal and microdiscoursal features in the abstracts of research articles across multiple science disciplines. PLOS One, 2018; 13(10):e0205417. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0205417. Corresponding author.
  • Koon AC, Chen ZS, Peng S, Fung JMS, Zhang X, Lembke KM, Chow HK, Frank CA, Jiang L, Lau KF, Chan HYE. Drosophila Exo70 is essential for neurite extension and survival under thermal stress. Journal of Neuroscience, 2018; 38(37):8071-8086. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0620-18.2018.
  • Koon AC, Chan HY. Drosophila melanogaster As a Model Organism to Study RNA Toxicity of Repeat Expansion-Associated Neurodegenerative and Neuromuscular Diseases. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, 2017; 11:70. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2017.00070.
  • Speese SD, Ashley J, Jokhi V, Nunnari J, Barria R, Li Y, Ataman B, Koon A, Chang YT, Li Q, Moore MJ, Budnik V. Nuclear Envelope Budding Enables Large Ribonucleoprotein Particle Export during Synaptic Wnt Signaling. Cell, 2012; 149(4):832-46.
  • Koon AC, Budnik V. Inhibitory control of synaptic and behavioral plasticity by octopaminergic signaling. Journal of Neuroscience, 2012; 32(18):6312-22.
  • Koon AC, Ashley J, Barria R, DasGupta S, Brain R, Waddell S, Alkema M, Budnik V. Autoregulatory and paracrine control of synaptic and behavioral plasticity by octopaminergic signaling. Nature Neuroscience, 2011; 14(2):190-199.
  • Lin Y, Bloodgood BL, Hauser JL, Lapan AD, Koon AC, Kim TK, Hu LS, Malik AN, Greenberg ME. Activity-dependent regulation of inhibitory synapse development by Npas4. Nature, 2008; 455(7217):1198-1204.

Teaching Grants

  • 2022-2025, Teaching Development and Language Enhancement Grant (TDLEG) – Inter-Institutional Collaborative Activities (IICAs) portion, Developing a systematized humour pedagogical approach to enhance teaching and learning: A cross-institutional and cross-disciplinary collaboration, $1,645,070 (Principal Supervisor)
  • 2021-2022, Teaching Development Grant (TDG), Humour as a pedagogical approach to improve student engagement, enhance learning and relieve stress, $130,433 (Principal Supervisor)

Research Grants

  • 2020-2022, General Research Fund (GRF), The role of adhesion molecule FasII/NCAM in synaptic dysfunction and neurodegeneration in myotonic dystrophy type I, $892,655 (Co-Investigator) (Same grant as below. After forfeiting due to changing to teaching track, the grant was re-acquired by Prof. Ho Yin Edwin Chan as PI.)
  • 2019-2021, General Research Fund (GRF), The role of adhesion molecule FasII/NCAM in synaptic dysfunction and neurodegeneration in myotonic dystrophy type I, $800,860 (Principal Investigator) (Forfeited in 2019 due to changing to teaching track)
  • 2018-2020, General Research Fund (GRF), Investigating the role of PAPD5 and its target microRNAs in RNA toxicity of polyglutamine diseases, $677,160 (Principal Investigator) (Transferred to Prof. Ho Yin Edwin Chan in 2019 due to changing to teaching track)
  • 2016-2017, Direct Grant for Research at CUHK, Regulation of synaptic plasticity in neurodegenerative diseases, $150,000 (Principal Investigator)


  • 2013-2015     UQ Postdoctoral Fellowship, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Australia

Professional Teaching Accreditation

  • 2021     Fellow of Advance HE (FHEA)

Professional Activities

  • Member of the Society for Neuroscience, USA, since 2011
  • Associate Editor, Cell & Cellular Life Sciences Journal, since 2018.
  • Associate Editor, Annals of Advanced Biomedical Sciences, since 2018.
  • Review Editor, Frontiers in Cellular Neuropathology, 07/2022 – present.

Professional Teaching Trainings

  • 2023 Certificate of Completion, Professional Development Course (PDC), Centre for Learning Enhancement And Research (CLEAR), CUHK
  • 2022 Certificate of Completion, Practical Design Thinking for Curriculum / Course Design, Centre for Learning Enhancement And Research (CLEAR), CUHK
  • 2021 Common Core Tutors Certificate, Common Core, HKU 
  • 2020 Professional Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (PCTLHE), Centre for Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL), HKU
  • 2020 Certificate of Completion, PBL Training Programme for Tutors, LKS Faculty of Medicine, HKU
  • 2020 Professional Development Programme in Medical Education, LKS Faculty of Medicine, HKU

Invited Lectures

  • 4/11/2022 HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education. Online Sharing Series.Title: “Well-played, Well-paid”: Enhancing Student Engagement via a Systematised Humour Pedagogical Approach
  • 26/1/2022 Hong Kong Student Association of Neuroscience (HKSAN) Online Webinar Series.
    Title: Lou Gehrig’s disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)
  • 27/7/2021 HKUMedify: Medical and Healthcare Academy for the Talented 2021 – Lecture in Biomedical Sciences, The University of Hong Kong.
    Title: Exploring the Ocean of Public Health
  • 1/12/2017 Popular Science Special Lecture Series: How Nobel Prizes Are Won, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
    Title: Punctuality is the best policy – What the fruit fly has taught us about the biological clock