Interview with Soon Seng Ng: Bioprinting for Therapy

Dr. Soon Seng Ng is an accomplished biomedical scientist and Director of Biology at Systemic Bio, leading groundbreaking research in 3D bioprinting and MPS development. With prior roles at Sana Biotechnology, Imperial College London, and Stanford University, Dr. Ng has made significant contributions to liver stem cell biology, disease modeling, drug discovery, and liver cell therapy. He has over 20 peer-reviewed publications, and his work has garnered awards and multi-million dollar grants, highlighting his impact on translational medicine and his commitment to bringing new therapies to patients. Dr. Ng’s dedication to advancing biomedical research and improving patient outcomes establishes him as a highly influential figure in the field. Dr. Soon Seng Ng will be speaking at our upcoming virtual event focusing on 3D printing and Microfluidics.

When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing?

Soon Seng: My initial encounter with 3D bioprinting technology dates back a decade to my time at Stanford. During that period, the team aimed to establish a 3D bioprinting hub on campus. My impression at the time was that the printing resolution fell short of effectively replicating blood vessels, which is often considered the holy grail of tissue engineering.

What inspired you to start your journey?

Soon Seng: I have been profoundly impressed by the remarkable progress the field has achieved over the past decade. The fun part is I have the privilege to experience this first-hand by working with my brilliant bioengineers at Systemic Bio. This advancement empowers cell biologists like me with a high degree of autonomy in modulating the cellular microenvironment by harnessing the power of 3D printing technology.

Who inspired you the most along this journey in 3D bioprinting?

Soon Seng: As a scientist, my personal mission is to provide healthcare solutions to underserved communities and make technology accessible to a broader population. I firmly believe that 3D printing plays a pivotal role in advancing this cause.

What motivates you the most for your work? 

Soon Seng: The team and our shared mission to advance the field of drug discovery.

What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions? 

Soon Seng: The technology we’re developing has the potential to be highly disruptive to the conventional drug development practices in the field. However, our most significant challenge lies in how to make a compelling case to pharmaceutical companies.

What do you think is (are) the biggest challenge(s) in 3D bio-printing? What do you think the potential solution(s) is (are)?

Soon Seng: In the realm of preclinical drug testing, 3D bioprinting propels us into an unprecedented complexity within life sciences. Our current challenge lies in establishing effective standardization for these diverse models across various contexts of use. The key to resolving this challenge likely rests in the collaborative efforts of academia, industry, and regulatory bodies.

What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore? 

Soon Seng: The real world is full of uncertainty and thus is very exciting. You being part of it is much needed. Getting a Ph.D. degree is a big investment, both financially and time-wise, please do not get yourself into this pit without serious consideration.

The real world is inherently dynamic and unpredictable, making it an exciting place to be. Your participation and contributions are highly valued and much needed. As for bad advice, pursuing a PhD degree represents a substantial investment, both in terms of finances and time commitment. I encourage you to carefully weigh your decision before venturing into this journey.

What’s your favorite book you read this year and why? Alternatively, what’s your favorite book of all time you read and why?

Soon Seng: Better Angle of Our Nature by Steven Pinkers, hands down. It makes me feel better to be part of this community.

Related Links:

Interview with Taciana Pereira, 3D Bioprinting and Allevi

Bioprinting Vasculatures (On-Demand)

Interview: Professor Adam Feinberg, Carnegie Mellon University, CTO and co-founder FluidForm

3D Printing and Microfluidics (On Demand)

Guide: 3D Printing For Cancer Care