Michael John Page Postdoctoral Fellowship Award Recipient 2022: Dr. Miffy Hok Yan Cheng

Dr. Miffy Hok Yan Cheng

Postdoctoral Fellow, Cullis Lab


Dr. Miffy Hok Yan Cheng

Tell us about your research.

My work mainly focuses on delivering gene therapies, where we develop delivery platforms called liposomes and lipid nanoparticles. These are the same platforms used to carry mRNA for the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine.

My research aims to maximize the treatment effectiveness of these lipid nanoparticles with different genetic cargos. I look at how these particles formulate, encapsulate RNAs, and deliver and disassemble in vitro and in vivo. These are all fundamental mechanisms behind how lipid nanoparticles and gene delivery work. By understanding those principles, we can rationally design new formulations and particles to maximize their therapeutic efficacy.


Miffy holding the Michael John Page Postdoctoral Fellow Award plaque

How did you feel when you received the Michael John Page Postdoctoral Fellowship Award?

I honestly did not expect to be selected, but I felt incredibly honored and wanted to take this opportunity to share my passions and my love for science, along with my scientific journey, which I think echoes many others.

I started my career as a synthetic chemist but had many learning opportunities to tap into lots of different research areas. Eventually, I gathered many techniques and skills in biology, and formulation science. Those experiences had put me in a perfect position to dive into a new avenue of nanomedicine and gene therapy when I joined UBC last year. It was something that I wanted to share during my award lecture.


What do you enjoy about science?

Miffy in the lab

Science is a great way to explore the unknown, but it is also a powerful tool when we can combine basic scientific principles and apply them to real-life situations. I think UBC has done a great job of enabling this in the life sciences sector.

In particular, I fell in love with nanomedicine because I can utilize basic science as a tool to address fundamental questions, while applying these technologies to diagnose and treat various diseases and have a global impact. Given many recent advancements and clinical applications, it’s a very exciting time for the field of nanomedicine and I am lucky to be part of this.


What are your future plans?

I hope I can continue in nanomedicine research and pursue a scientific career path in either academia or industry.


Miffy playing badminton

What do you like to do outside of the lab?

I’m quite adventurous and like to try new activities – badminton aside, I also enjoy other outdoor and indoor activities such as camping and bouldering.  I’m also really looking forward to skiing in the beautiful Whistler mountains this winter season!


What’s so special about being in science?

The last thing I want to share is that it’s very inspirational to go into science. This award honours Michael and his science, and how he brought so much joy and passion to people who surrounded him for his research, personal life, and interests.

Miffy hiking outdoors

Doing research is no easy task; much like a rollercoaster, scientific research often means there are a lot of ups and downs. One thing that Michael demonstrated is that we all need to do this together: no one does research on their own. I’m incredibly honored and grateful to have met such wonderful people, and being able to make so many life-long friends throughout my scientific journey.



About the Michael John Page Postdoctoral Fellow Award

The Michael John Page Postdoctoral Fellow Award recognizes a postdoctoral fellow who reflects Dr. Page’s academic excellence and his passion for life. In Michael’s memory, each year CBR recognizes an Postdoctoral Fellow who has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement combined with significant extra-curricular achievements, both scientific and non-scientific.

Michael John Page was born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, where he graduated from Port Arthur Collegiate in 1994. He attended Carleton University in Ottawa, graduating with his B.Sc. in Biochemistry in 1998. Following, he entered the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology graduate program at UBC under Ross MacGillivray’s supervision. During his graduate studies, his fellow students recognized Mike’s achievements by selecting him for the prestigious 2001 Zbarsky Prize. He then completed a highly productive postdoctoral fellowship, studying the biological activity of thrombin with Dr. Enrico Di Cera at Washington University in St. Louis, and in 2010, moved to a junior faculty position at the University of California, San Francisco, mentored by Dr. Charles Craik. Tragically, Mike died suddenly in June 2013 at age 36, leaving a legacy of a thirst for knowledge and a love of life.

Learn more about the Michael John Page Postdoctoral Fellow Award.