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Exploration of novel phytochemical adjuvants in the modulation of the tumor microenvironment against pancreatic cancer development

1994 …2023

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Chinese Name


Research Interests

I have expertise in the fields of pharmacology, toxicology, chemotherapy and gastroenterology. My research focuses on investigating novel signaling pathways and oncogenic biomarkers associated with gastrointestinal cancers including that of the pancreas, colon, liver and stomach, with the aim to identify molecular drug targets and exploring potential anticancer phytochemicals and functional peptides. One of my research milestones was to decipher the roadmap for anticarcinogenic mechanisms carried out by a special Astragalus saponins extract (AST) during its comprehensive bioactive activities when treating a panel of cancers (American Journal of Chinese Medicine 44(1):1-22, 2016). Currently, I am actively studying the molecular mechanism of two novel isoflavonoids on their anticancer potential via modulation of different variants of autophagy as well as the tumor microenvironment as neoadjuvants in pancreatic cancer therapy, together with their ability to alleviate chemoresistance in cancer cells (Antioxidants 11:1349, 2022; Phytomedicine 106:154406, 2022). New ventures include the use of tumor-targeting functional peptides and establishment of DNA vaccines or nanoparticles to improve drug delivery to tumor cells.



1991 University of Toronto, B.Sc.(Hons) Specialists in Toxicology and Nutritional Sciences

1995 The University of Hong Kong, Ph.D. in Pharmacology



American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)

European Association for Cancer Research (EACR)

International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR) – Gastrointestinal Pharmacology section

Affiliated member of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) in the Global GI Club

Royal Society of Biology (U.K.) (MRSB); designated Chartered Biologist (C.Biol.)

Hong Kong Pharmacology Society (HKPS)



Associate Professor (Tenured in 2009) / Associate Professor (Promoted in 2008) / Associate Professor (Re-titled in 2005) / Assistant Professor (2001-05), Hong Kong Baptist University, School of Chinese Medicine

Hon. Associate Professor (2008-2021) / Hon. Assistant Professor (1998-2007), The University of Hong Kong, Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy

Senior Scientist (with the post of Project Manager) (1997-2000), CK Life Sciences Int’l., (Holdings) Inc., Technology Development and Applied Research Div. (Member of the Cheung Kong group)

Research Fellow (Term of Service I – fractional 40% teaching, 60% research) (1997-2000) The University of Hong Kong, Department of Pharmacology

Visiting Lecturer (Pharmacology and Physiology) (1996-1998), Hong Kong Polytechnic University, School of Optometry (formerly Department of Optometry and Radiography) and School of Nursing (formerly Department of Nursing and Health Sciences)


Course Teaching at HKBU

Pharmacology, Pharmacology & Toxicology, Anatomy, Digestive System and Hepatobiliary System, Renal System, Diseases and Medicine (GE)


Key Administrative Duties at HKBU

Chairman of the HKBU Animal Research Ethics Panel under the Senate's Standing Research Ethics Committee

Chairman of the School of Chinese Medicine (SCM) Safety Committee

Chairman of the Laboratory Safety and Animal House Committee (Teaching and Research Division, SCM)

Chairman of the HKBU Lab Safety Subcommittee under the Senate's Standing Environmental Health and Safety Committee(EHSC) (2010-19)

Risk Officer of the School of Chinese Medicine

Equal Opportunities Advisor (EOA) of HKBU (SCM Representative)

Convenor of the Biomedical Science/Western Clinical Medicine Examination Committee (Teaching and Research Division, SCM)

Member of the HKBU Senate's Standing Quality Assurance Committee (QAC) (2007-19)

Member of the HKBU Senate's Standing E-Learning Committee



Cat C Committee Member of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park (HKSTP) Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)

Cat C Committee Member of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park (HKSTP) Clinical Research Ethics Committee (CREC)

EACR Ambassador of the European Association for Cancer Research

Delegate to the IUPHAR General Assembly of the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology in representation of the Hong Kong Pharmacology Society

Honorary Treasurer of the Hong Kong Pharmacology Society (2016-present); Executive Council Member (2008-09, 2014-15)



External reviewer of the University of Macau Multi-Year Research Grant – General Research Grant

Expert assessor of the Review Panel for the Joint “Science and Technology Development Fund of Macau (FDCT)-National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC)” Grant

Admission Panel Member for Incu-Tech/Incu-Bio Programme, Hong Kong Science Park

External reviewer of the Funding scheme SONATA BIS & OPUS, National Science Centre (Narodowe Centrum Nauki), Government of the Republic of Poland

External reviewer of the Health Research Board Ireland, Clinical Research Training Fellowship

Associate Editor of “Frontiers in Pharmacology – Gastrointestinal and Hepatic Pharmacology specialty section”

Associate Editor of “PPAR Research”

Editor of “Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine”

External examiner of the Associate Degree Programme in Life Sciences, College of International Education, Hong Kong Baptist University (CIE)

External examiner of the Diploma Programme in General Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong – Tung Wah Groups of Hospitals Community College (CUTW)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy (Pharmacology), The University of Hong Kong

1 Jul 199131 Aug 1995

Award Date: 6 Nov 1995

Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Toxicology and Nutritional Science, University of Toronto

1 Sept 198731 May 1991

Award Date: 16 Jun 1991


  • RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Gastric cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Chemoresistance
  • Autophagy
  • Tumor microenvironment
  • Phytochemicals
  • Functional peptides
  • Toxicology
  • Experimental pharmacology
  • Animal models
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Gastric ulcer


Dive into the research topics where Joshua KO is active. Topic labels come from the works of this scholar.
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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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