Kenny Wong (kwong2)

Kenny Wong

Teaching Associate Professor and Associate Chair for Graduate Studies

Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

McLean Hall 517
(201) 216-8240


  • PhD (1990) Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Biochemistry)
  • MS (1987) Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Biochemistry)
  • BS (1985) New York University (Chemistry)


Mechanistic enzymology, metabolic pathways (bile acid and cholesterol metabolism), drug discovery, pharmacology of drugs, human genetics, RNA biology

General Information

Dr. Kenny Wong is Teaching Associate Professor of Biology and Associate chair of graduate studies in the Dept. of Chemistry and Chemical Biology (CCB). He joined the CCB faculty in 2017 after 23 years in industrial R&D research at Merck and Co. Inc., one of the top 5 pharmaceutical company in the USA. Dr. Wong started at Merck in the laboratory as Senior Research Biochemist and achieved the rank of Director of Pharmacology. Dr. Wong has extensive experience in diverse areas of biology and chemistry, and across multiple diseases such as diabetes, cardiometabolic disorders, cancer, antibacterial and neuroscience. He led numerous drug discovery teams that identified and validated drug targets, and advanced suitable therapeutic molecules into clinical trials. Dr. Wong has practical experience in cutting edge technologies such as the “omics” sciences, RNA interference and human genomics. He has published over 40 original research articles and co-inventors of 5 patents. Dr. Wong has lectured at the University of Pennsylvania, Brooklyn College, CUNY and Rutgers. Dr. Wong also serves as grant reviewer at the National Institute of Health and currently a member in the Molecular Structure and Function A study section (since 2017). Dr. Wong received his BS in Chemistry at NYU and Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He was NIH postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Wong is a foodie with a deep passion for teaching and mentoring the next generation of biomedical researchers.


Associate chair of graduate education and Teaching associate professor
Teaching associate professor and Program director in Biology (2017-2021)
Adjunct faculty
Director of Pharmacology, Merck Research Labs, Merck & Co., Inc. (2013-2016)
Director Atherosclerosis & Cardiovascular Discovery Merck Research Labs, Merck & Co., Inc. (2007-2013)
Scientific director Molecular profiling, Merck Research Labs, Merck & Co. Inc (2006-2007)
Senior Research Fellow, Diabetes and Cardiometabolic Research, Merck Research Labs, Merck & Co. Inc. (1999-2006)
Research Fellow, Chemical Biology, Metabolic Disorder/Diabetes, Merck Research Labs, Merck & Co. Inc. (1993-1997)

Institutional Service

  • CCB Graduate Education Committee Chair
  • Graduate Education Committee Member
  • Health Professional Advisory Committee Member
  • CCB Undergraduate Education Committee Member
  • TTS Faculty Search Committee Member
  • Graduate Education Committee Member
  • CCB Graduate Education Committee Chair
  • Health Professional Advisory Committee Member
  • CCB Undergraduate Education Committee Member
  • Lecturer (NMR) Search Committee Member
  • NTS Faculty Search Committee Chair
  • TTS Faculty Search Committee Member
  • Academic Admission Member
  • Learning Analytics Advisory Group Member
  • Workday Student Champion Member
  • STEM Task Force Member

Professional Service

  • Molecular Structure and Function (secA) Study Section National Institute of heath member (till 2023); grant reviewer
  • Sofia Pharm Consulting LLC Principal and owner

Consulting Service

Sofia Pharma Consulting, LLC. Principal and Owner (2016-present)

Honors and Awards

1. Award of Excellence for outstanding contribution to the Curriculum in Drug Development; Merck-Yale Collaboration (2010).
2. Merck Special Achievement Award: BRGOS Current Assessment of Target ID & Validation (2007)
3. Merck Award of Excellence: Establishment of the Rahway Viral Vector Facility (2006)
4. Merck Award of Excellence: PPARa selective modulator: approval of PCC L-'312 (2006)
5. Division/Staff Award: Antibacterial Program (1996)
6. Albert Cass Traveling Fellowship (1988);
7. United Federation of Teachers Scholarship (1981-1985)
8. The Otto P. Burgdorf Award in Biological Science (1981)

Professional Societies

  • NYAS – New York Academy of Science Member
  • AAAS – American Association for the Advancement of Science Member
  • ACS – American Chemical Society Member

Grants, Contracts and Funds

National Research Service Award, National Institute of Health (1990-1993)

Patents and Inventions

1) Tan, Y., Dai, H., Lum, P.Y., Thompson, J.R., Berger, J.P., Muise, E.S., Raubertas, R.F., Wong, K.K., Methods for Characterizing Agonists and Partial Agonists of Target Molecules. 9/6/2011, US Parent Number US8014954B2
2) El-Sherbeini, M. & Wong K.K., MurD protein and Gene of Streptococcus pyrogens 6/8/2004 US Patent Number 6,746,858.
3) El-Sherbeini, M., Wong, K.K., Geissler, W., “MurD protein and Gene of Staphylococcus aureus” 3/18/2003 US Patent Number 6,534,284.
4) Esser, C., Hagmann, W., Hoffman, W., Shah, S., Wong, K., Chabin, R., Guthikonda, R., Maccoss, M., Caldwell, C., Durette, P., "Substituted 2-Aminopyridine as Inhibitors of Nitric Oxide Synthase." 10/26/1999, US Patent Number 5,972,975.
5) Chabin, R.M., Kuo, D.W., O’Connell, J.F., Pompliano, D.L. & Wong, K.K. “Metabolic Pathway Assay” 4/6/1999 US Patent Number 5,891,621.

Selected Publications

Key publications from over 40:
Enzymology and metabolic pathways
I have demonstrated the detailed chemical mechanisms of redox active enzymes. For glutathione reductase we were able to demonstrate enzymes from different species can stabilize different transition-state structures using isotope effects methodologies1. For pyruvate-formate lyase we were among the first investigators to demonstrate the existence of a thiyl (cysteine) radical on an enzyme2. At Merck, I was the first investigator to characterize the recombinant human inducible nitric oxide synthase3. Our group also reported the first in vitroreconstitution of the stage I bacterial cell wall biosynthetic pathway that is tuned for screening inhibitors and the chemi-enzymatic synthesis of all 6 peptidylglycan stage 1 intermediates4,5. Using transcriptomics my group at Merck reported a PPARgregulated adipocyte secretory factors FGF21 which is now a target for metabolic diseases6.

1. Vanoni, M.A., Wong, K.K., Ballou, D.B. & Blanchard, J.S., (1990), Glutathione Reductase: Comparison of Steady-state and Pre-steady-state Primary Kinetic Isotope Effects,. Biochemistry 29: 5790.
2. Parast, C.V., Wong, K.K., Magliozzo, R., Peisach, J. & Kozarich, J.W., (1995), EPR Evidence for a Cysteine-Based Radical in Pyruvate Formate-Lyase by Inactivation with Mercaptopyruvate, Biochemistry 34: 5712
3. Chabin, R.M., McCauley, E., Calaycay, J.R., Kelly, T.M., MacNaul, K.L., Wolfe, G.C., Hutchinson, N.I., Madhusudanaraju, S., Schimdt, J.A., Kozarich, J.W. & Wong, K.K., (1996), Active-Site Structure Analysis of Recombinant Human Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase Using Imidazole, Biochemistry 35: 9567.
4. Wong, K.K., Kuo, D.W., Chabin, R.M., Gegnas, L.D., Waddell, S.T., Marsilio, F., Leiting, B., & Pompliano, D.L., Engineering a Cell-Free Murein Biosynthetic Pathway: Combinatorial Enzymology in Drug Discovery”, J. Am. Chem. Soc.,1998,120: 13527.
5. Reddy, S.R, Waddell, S.T., Kuo, D.W., Wong, K.K.and Pompliano, D.L., Enzymatic Synthesis of Bacterial Cell Wall Precursors: Substrates for Peptidoglycan Biosynthesis”, J. Am. Chem. Soc.,1999,121: 1175.
6. Azzolina, B., Musie, E., Kuo, D., El-Sherbeini, M., Tan, E., Thompson, J., Berger, J. & Wong K.K., FGF-21 is a PPARgRegulated Secreted Factor Revealed from Transcriptional Profiling”, Mol. Pharmacol., 2008, 74:403.

Disease Biology and Pharmacology
At Merck, my group contributed to the mechanistic pharmacology of therapeutic agents that included the novel siRNA therapeutic approach in the in vivo validation of targets using various pre-clinical models.

1. Hentze, H., Jensen, KK, Mien Chia, SM, Johns, DG, Shaw, RJ, Davis Jr, HR, Shih, SJ, Wong, KK, Inverse relationship between LDL cholesterol and PCSK9 plasma levels in dyslipidemic cynomolgus monkeys: effects of LDL lowering by ezetimibe in the absence of statins”, Atherosclerosis,2013, Nov;231(1):84-90.
2. Tan Y, Muise ES, Dai H, Richard Raubertas R, Wong KK, Thompson GM, Wood HB, Meinke PT, Pek Yee Lum, PK, Thompson JR and Berger, JP., Novel Transcriptome Profiling Analyses Demonstrate that Selective PPAR Modulators Display Attenuated and Selective Gene Regulatory Activity in Comparison with PPARg Full Agonists”, Mol. Pharmacol.2012, Jul;82(1):68-79.
3. Tadin-Strapps M, Peterson LB, Cumiskey AM, Rosa RL, Mendoza VH, Castro-Perez J, Puig O, Zhang L, Strapps WR, Yendluri S, Andrews L, Pickering V, Rice J, Luo L, Chen Z, Tep S, Ason B, Somers EP, Sachs AB, Bartz SR, Tian J, Chin J, Hubbard BK, Wong KK, Mitnaul LJ., SiRNA-induced liver ApoB knockdown lowers serum LDL-cholesterol in a mouse model with human-like serum lipids”, J Lipid Res.2011, 52(6):1084-97.
4. Ason B, Tep S, Davis HR Jr, Xu Y, Tetzloff G, Galinski B, Soriano F, Dubinina N, Zhu L, Stefanni A, Wong KK, Tadin-Strapps M, Bartz SR, Hubbard B, Ranalletta M, Sachs AB, Flanagan WM, Strack A, Kuklin NA.,Improved efficacy for ezetimibe and rosuvastatin by attenuating the induction of PCSK9”, J Lipid Res.2011, 52(4):679-87.


BIO281 Biology & Biotechnology
BIO381 Cell Biology
BIO397 Plant Biology
BIO484 Molecular Genetics
BIO684 Molecular Biology Lab Techniques
CH301 and CH501 Ethics in Research