Elaine Wong

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Elaine Y.M. Wong

BSc, Mphil, PhD


Elaine Wong is the Senior Research Fellow at Ear Science Institute Australia and School of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences in Curtin University. She has an appointment as Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the Ear Sciences Centre, Division of Surgery, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, The University of Western Australia. 

She graduated from the University of Hong Kong in 1999, and she completed a Mphil in 2002 and a PhD in 2006 at the University of Hong Kong. Dr Wong was a visiting scholar in inner ear neurobiology at the University of Iowa in 2008.  She underwent her second post-doctoral training in inner ear developmental and regenerative biology in Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York in 2010-2013. Elaine worked as a Research Assistant Professor in the School of Biomedical Sciences, HKU in 2013-2017.

Since joining Ear Science in July 2017 she has been involved in inner ear organoids from pluripotent stem cells for patient-specific ear development model, inner ear developmental biology, human and mouse molecular genetics research in ear and hearing therapy. Her research interest includes understanding the genetic and molecular mechanisms in human deafness and regeneration of hair cells in mammalian inner ear; and understanding regulatory networks controlling the age-related hearing loss, Human Branchio-oto-renal syndrome and Usher syndrome.

She is currently working on the Human pluripotent stem cell differentiation to inner ear tissue for Usher syndrome model. This project is funded by the Stan & Jean Perron Charitable Foundation and started on 2018-2021 to support “the Stan & Jean Perron cure hearing loss team to perform Human pluripotent stem cell differentiation to inner ear tissue for Usher syndrome model’.

Her laboratory also focuses on studying the roles of the transcription factors in the regeneration of hair cells in inner ears. The project is currently supported by The Garnett Passe and Rodney Williams Memorial Foundation Australia and started on April 2018. The long-term goal is to develop therapies for prevention, repair and regeneration in human deafness. 

Dr Wong’s research has attracted over $1.5 million in research funding from Australian, Hong Kong and China government and industry. She has developed active collaboration with various institutions including Lions Eye Institute, Perth; University of Newcastle in Australia; Peking Union Medical College and Southern University of Science and Technology in China; The University of Hong Kong.

Research Interest

Her research focuses on understanding the potential of hair cell regeneration to address hearing impairment in Usher syndrome and develop a new therapeutic treatment for deafness in humans.

(1) Using Usher patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells to generate human inner ear and retinal organoids and study the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms in hearing loss for inner ear cell therapies by using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing techniques;

(2) Sensory hair cells, supporting cells and neuronal differentiation by using human cell and animal models for studying regenerative cell biology in the inner ears;

(3) Genetic, molecular and cellular causes of vestibular balancing and hearing loss and their treatment.

Using human and mouse genetic approaches, including conditional gene targeting and inducible expression systems to elucidate key molecular pathways involved in different aspects of inner ear development.

Techniques involve human induced pluripotent stem cell, inner ear organoid culture, multiphoton confocal live cell imaging and confocal microscopy, gene manipulation in mouse embryos and cochlea tissues by CRISPR/Cas9 to generate loss-of-function system or overexpressing the target gene for gain-of-function system, flow cytometry, high resolution electron microscopy SEM, ultrastructural localization of the proteins involved in the stereocilia bundle at the top of sensory hair cells in the organ of Corti, quantitative PCR, coimmunoprecipitation CoIP, single cell RNA sequencing, ChIP sequencing and bioinformatics analyses.

Email address:


Top publications:


  • Zaw, K^., Wong, E.Y^., Zhang, X., Zhang, D., Chen, S.C., Thompson, J.A., Lamey, T., McLaren, T., De Roach, J.N. Wilton, S.D., Fletcher, S., Mitrpant, C., Atlas, M.D., Chen, F.K., McLenachan, S. (2021) Generation of three induced pluripotent stem cell lines from a patient with Usher syndrome caused by biallelic c.949C>A and c.1256G>T mutations in the USH2A gene. Stem Cell Research, 50, 102129 (^Co-1st author) (Impact Factor: 4.489).
  • Zhang H., Xie J., So K.K.H., Tong K.K., Wang L., Tsang S.L., Chan W.Y., Wong, E.Y. and Sham, M.H. Hoxb3 regulates Jag1 expression in epibranchial placode and affects interaction of pharyngeal epithelium and neural crest. Frontiers in Physiology, 11, 612230 (Impact Factor: 4.134). 


  • Whatley, M., Francis, A., Ng, Z.Y., Khoh, X.E., Atlas, M.D., Dilley, R.J., Wong, E.Y.* Usher syndrome: genetics and molecular links of hearing loss and directions for therapy. Frontiers in Genetics, 11, 565216. (*Corresponding author) (Impact Factor: 3.789).  
  • Li, J., Zhang, T., Ramakrishnan, A., Fritzsch, B., Xu, J., Wong, E.Y., Loh, Yong-Hwee, Ding, J., Shen, L. and Xu, P.X. (2020) Dynamic changes in cis-regulatory occupancy by Six1 and its cooperative interactions with distinct cofactors drive lineage-specific gene expression programs during progressive differentiation of the auditory sensory epithelium. Nucleic Acid Research, 48, 2880-2896 (Impact Factor: 11.147).


  • Wong, E.Y.* and Francis A. (2019) The future for hearing loss in Usher syndrome. Audiology, 77, 32-33 (*Corresponding author).
  • McLenachan, S.*, Wong, E.Y.*, Leith, F., Moon, S.Y., Zhang, D., Chen, S.C., Zhang, X., Thompson, J.A., McLaren, T., Lamey, T., De Roach, J.N., Atlas, M.D., Dilley, R.J. and Chen, F.K. (2019) Generation of two induced pluripotent stem cell lines from a patient with compound heterozygous mutations in the USH2A gene. Stem Cell Research, 36, 101420 (*Co-1st author) (Impact Factor: 3.929).
  • Li, J., Zhang, T., Ramakrishnan, A., Fritzsch, B., Xu, J., Wong, E.Y., Loh, Yong-Hwee, Ding, J., Shen, L. and Xu, P.X. (2019) Dynamic changes in cis-regulatory occupancy by Six1 drive feedforward sequential induction of gene expression to establish hair cell fate and hair bundle polarity in mouse auditory sensory epithelium. Nucleic Acid Research in press (Impact Factor: 11.147).
  • Li, X., Yu, X., Chen, X., Liu, Z., Wang, G., Li, C., Wong, E.Y., Sham, M.H., Tang, J., He, J., Xiong, W., Liu, Z. and Huang, P. (2019)  Localization of TMC1 and LHFPL5 in auditory hair cells in neonatal and adult mice. The FASEB Journal, 33, 001-014 (Impact Factor: 5.391).


  • Zhang, H., Wang, L., Wong, E.Y., Tsang, S.L., Xu, P.X., Lendahl, U. and Sham, M.H. (2017) An Eya1-Notch axis specifies bipotential epibranchial differentiation in mammalian craniofacial morphogenesis. eLife, 6, e30126 (2nd author) (Impact Factor: 7.616).


  • Wong, E.Y., Xu, C.Y., Brahmachary, M. and Xu, P.X. (2016) A novel ENU-induced mutation in Myo6 causes vestibular dysfunction and deafness. PLoS ONE, 11, e0154984 (Impact Factor: 2.776).
  • Li, J., Cheng, C. Rodriguez, Y., Wong, E.Y., Zeng, L., Xu, C.Y., Sharkar, M.T., Zhou, M.M. and Xu, P.X. (2016) EYA1’s conformation-specificity in dephosphorylating phosphothreonine in Myc and its activity on Myc stabilization in breast cancer. Molecular and Cellular Biology, 37:e00499-16 (Impact Factor: 3.735).


  • Xu, J., Wong, E.Y., Cheng, C.M., Li, J., Sharkar, M.T., Xu, C.Y., Chen, B., Sun, J., Jing, D. and Xu, P.X. (2014) Eya1 interacts with Six2 and Myc to regulate expansion of nephron progenitor pool during nephrogenesis. Developmental Cell, 31, 434-447 (Impact Factor: 9.616).


  • Wong, E.Y.* Ahmed, M. and Xu, P.X.* (2013) EYA1-SIX1 complex in neurosensory cell fate induction in the mammalian inner ear. Hearing Research, 297, 13-19 (*Co-corresponding author) (Impact Factor: 2.952).
  • Sun, J.B., Karoulia, Z., Wong, E.Y., Ahmed, M. and Xu, P.X. (2013) The phosphatase-transcription activator EYA1 is targeted by APC/Cdh1 for degradation at M-to-G1 transition. Molecular and Cellular Biology, 33, 927-936 (2nd author) (Impact Factor: 3.735).


  • Ahmed, M., Wong, E.Y., Xu, J., Wang, F. and Xu, P.X. (2012) Eya1-Six1 interaction is sufficient to induce hair cell fate in the cochlea by activating Atoh1 expression in cooperation with Sox2. Developmental Cell, 22, 377-390 (Recommended by FACULTY OF 1000) (Impact Factor: 9.616).


  • Wong, E.Y., Wang, X.A., Mak, S.S., Sae-Pang, J.J., Ling, K.W., Fritzsch, B. and Sham, M.H. (2011) Hoxb3 negatively regulates Hoxb1 expression in mouse hindbrain patterning. Developmental Biology, 352, 382-392 (Impact Factor: 2.936).


  • Maklad, A., Kamel, S., Wong, E.Y., Fritzsch, B. (2010) Development and organization of polarity-specific segregation of primary vestibular afferent fibers in mice. Cell Tissue Res., 340, 303-321 (Impact Factor: 3.043).


  • Wong, E.Y., Tse, J.Y., Yao, K.M., Tam, P.C. and Yeung, W.S. (2004) Identification and characterization of a human VCY2-interacting protein: VCY2IP-1, a microtubule-associated protein-like protein. Biology of Reproduction, 70, 775-778 (Impact Factor: 2.960).


  • Tse, J.Y., Wong, E.Y., Cheung, A.N., O, W.S., Tam, P.C. and Yeung, W.S. (2003) Specific expression of VCY2 in human male germ cells and its involvement in the pathogenesis of male infertility. Biology of Reproduction, 69, 746-751 (Impact Factor: 2.960). 
  • Wong, E.Y., Tse, J.Y., Yao, K.M., Tam, P.C. and Yeung, W.S. (2002) VCY2 protein interacts with the HECT domain of ubiquitin-protein ligase E3A (UBE3A). Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun., 296, 1104-1111 (Impact Factor: 2.705).