Stephanie Kwai Yee Ma 馬桂宜

  • Senior Research Fellowship in 2023 at University of Hong Kong
  • Innovation Award in 2014 at University of Hong Kong

About Stephanie Kwai Yee Ma’s work

Stephanie Kwai Yee Ma is a biomedical scientist. Her current work builds on her longstanding interest in using stemness (the ability of cells to differentiate into different cell types) as a vulnerability in cancer cells, specifically hepatocellular carcinoma (a type of liver cancer). She and her research group are conducting basic and pre-clinical studies using various approaches to translate their findings into better patient care. They have identified markers for liver cancer stem cells and genes/signalling pathways that could be targeted for therapy.

Ma and her research group have also explored the liver cancer stem cell niche, which includes microenvironments like extracellular matrix, fibroblasts, and viral antigens that contribute to maintaining the cancer stemness phenotype.

Ma’s current proposed study focuses on liver cancer stem cell immunology, using CRISPR screening and immune-drug screening approaches to identify regulators of response to antigen presentation, T cell-mediated cytotoxicity, and anti-PD1 therapy in hepatocellular carcinoma.


Stephanie Kwai Yee Ma obtained both her BSc and MSc degrees from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She then graduated with a PhD degree from the University of Hong Kong and was awarded the Li Ka Shing Prize for the best PhD thesis of that year. She is currently a Professor and Associate Director (Knowledge Exchange and Global) at the same university, in the School of Biomedical Sciences at the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine (HKUMed). Ma also currently serves as the Academic Lead of the Imaging and Flow Cytometry Core of the Centre for PanorOmic Sciences at HKUMed, and is a Principal Investigator at the University’s State Key Laboratory of Liver Research. Ma is among the top 1% of the most-cited scholars in her field.

In 2008, she was the recipient of the Young Scientist Award in Life Sciences from the Hong Kong Institution of Science. This was followed by many other awards, such as: the 2012-13 Outstanding Young Researcher Award from the University of Hong Kong; a Croucher Innovation Award in 2014; the 2014 Scientific Research Outstanding Achievement Awards from the Higher Education Institution of China and the 2018 Ton Duc Thang University Scientific Prize. In 2021, her work received funding under the Research Grants Council (RGC) Research Fellow Scheme.

Ma is a Founding Member and current Vice-President and Co-Chair of the Outreach Committee of the Hong Kong Young Academy of Sciences. She is also a member of the Future Forum Young Scientist Innovation Alliance in China. Since 2020, she has served as a member of the Board of Directors at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation. Her current research is supported by a Croucher Senior Research Fellowship.