Chan Lek Tan

130613_0636_convocation-v2Chan Lek Tan

Presented by Paul Greengard
B.A., Christ’s College, University of Cambridge
Tuning of Neuronal Excitation by a Brain Specific MicroRNA miR-128: From Targets to Behavior






Chan Lek Tan is a brave young traveler on a historic path to conquer the Wild West. Born in Malaysia, Chan’s first western migration brought him to the United Kingdom, where he graduated with honors from Cambridge University with a bachelor of arts degree in natural sciences. Inspired by his success, he continued his journey toward the west and entered the Ph.D. program at The Rockefeller University. Determined to venture deeper into unknown territories, he joined my laboratory to work with Anne Schaefer on the role of microRNAs in controlling brain function. Chan’s research showed that even tiny pieces of RNA can have a huge impact on brain function. In a set of elegant genetic, molecular and behavioral experiments, Chan identified a 25 nucleotide-long microRNA that controls neuronal excitability and functions as a key regulator of motor activity and seizure susceptibility in mice.

Chan’s education at Cambridge University gave him not only a sense of irony that he would generously share with his friends and colleagues, but also seeded a deep passion for literature. In order to satisfy Chan’s appetite for books without compromising his devotion to his experiments, he became a true devotee of audiobooks. These audiobooks would cause Chan to erupt occasionally with seemingly inexplicable laughter while pipetting at his bench late in the evening. In his free time, Chan likes to travel, enjoys good food and is a great listener.

Chan will now continue his tireless quest westward by pursuing the great unknowns of neuroscience in the distinguished laboratory of Zach Knight at the University of California, San Francisco. As he continues his trip around the world, we wish Chan all the best for his next adventure.