Ferdinand Xiankeng Choong


About me

My initial training from my undergraduate duration in Singapore is that of a microbiologist with a focus on antimicrobial chemicals and peptides. It was a rigorous training and an excellent degree. During this period, I gained a wealth of technical knowledge and personal capabilities that enabled me to function effectively as a research scientist.

Since then I have been branched out from my microbiological foundations, constantly exposed and tested at various occasions as I entered Karolinska as a Ph.D student, mentored by Professor Agneta Richter-Dahlfors. During this interview I have attended and presented my work at numerous international seminars and conferences, supervised 5 students and branched out beyond microbiology into translational research.

My research now integrates several disciplines, covering the live study of host pathogen interactions with a focus on infections of the upper urinary tract, the study of biofilm development, and the development and validation of research tools necessary for such studies. In so doing, I have authored / co-authored several original research manuscripts, review articles and patent applications.


Research description

Bacterial infections are accompanied by dynamic alterations in tissue homeostasis in infected organs. What starts as a local bacterium-host cell interaction at the site of infection, changes over time to include distant signaling and engagement of multiple cell types in the host’s effort to eradicate the intruders. Hence, bacteria are being exposed to a continuously changing microenvironment during the time-course of infection. My research focuses on i) bacterial population behaviour in infection, ii) probing the microenvironment during infection using bacteria as biosensors, iii) studying the role of virulence factors in vivo, and iv) the analysis of long-term consequences of infection. Work to this extent is based on intravital imaging technologies, classical microbiological techniques and nanoprobes to increase our understanding of the delicate interplay between the microbe and the host. Utilizing the live organ as our test tube, my work contibutes to forming the foundation of the new field termed “Tissue microbiology”.

Academic honours, awards and prizes

1. Löffler S, Antypas H, Choong FX, Nilsson KPR, Richter-Dahlfors A.,Conjugated Oligo- and Polymers for Bacterial Sensing. Front Chem. 2019 Apr 18;7:265

2. Choong FX, Lantz L, Shirani H, Schulz H,  L, Nilsson KPR, Edlund U, Richter-Dahlfors A. Stereochemical identification of glucans by a donor–acceptor–donor conjugated pentamer enables multi-carbohydrate anatomical mapping in plant tissues. Cellulose, May 2019, Volume 26, Issue 7, pp 4253–4264.

3. Antypas H, Choong FX, Libberton B, Brauner A, Richter-Dahlfors A. Rapid diagnostic assay for detection of cellulose in urine as biomarker for biofilm-related urinary tract infections. NPJ Biofilms Microbiomes.  

4. Choong FX, Bäck M, Schulz A, Nilsson KPR, Edlund E & Richter-Dahlfors A, Stereochemical identification of glucans by oligothiophenes enables cellulose anatomical mapping in plant tissues,
Scientific Reports, 2018 (8), 3108

5. Choong FX, Tissue microbiology: an integrated approach for intravital studies of host-pathogen interactions, Karolinska Institutet library, 2017, ISBN: 978-91-7676-710-8

6. Choong FX, Bäck M, Fahlén S, Melican K, Rhen M, Nilsson KPR, Richter-Dahlfors A, Real-time optotracing of curli and cellulose in live Salmonella biofilms using luminescent oligothiophenes, npj Biofilms and Microbiomes, 2016, 16024

7. Choong FX, Bäck M, Steiner SE, Melican K, Nilsson KPR, Edlund U, Richter-Dahlfors A, Nondestructive, real-time determination and visualization of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin by luminescent oligothiophenes, Scientific Reports, 2016 (6), 35578

8. Choong FX, Antypas H, Richter-Dahlfors A, Intergrated pathophysiology of pyelonephritis. Microbiol Spectr, 2015, 3(5): UTI-0014-2012. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.UTI-004-2012

9. Choong FX, Richter-Dahlfors A, Intravital two-photon imaging to understand bacterial infections of the mammalian host, Methods in Molecular Biology, 2014, 1197: 87-100

10. Choong FX, Regberg J, Udekwu KI, Richter-Dahlfors A, Intravital models of infection lay the foundation for tissue microbiology. Future Microbiol, 2012, 7:519-533.

11. Choong FX, Sandoval RM, Molitoris BA, Richter-Dahlfors A, Multiphoton microscopy applied for real-time intravital imaging of bacterial infections in vivo. Methods in Enzymol, 2012, 506:35-61.

12. Melican K,  Choong FX, Richter-Dahlfors A, Host-pathogen interactions and host defence mechanisms. In: Coffman TM, Falk RJ,Molitoris BA, Neilson EG, Schrier RW (eds). Schrier’s diseases of the kidney 9 ed,2012, 1:673-688.