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Professor Phaik Yeong Cheah

Professor Phaik Yeong Cheah

Podcast interview

The ethics of research

Identifying and addressing ethical issues are key to the success of any clinical trials, particularly when working with vulnerable populations. Tackling these issues helps improve the quality of research and translate the evidence of clinical trials into improvement of management of patients.

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Phaik Yeong Cheah

Professor of Global Health

Bioethics & Engagement

Professor Phaik Yeong Cheah, is a Professor of Global Health and bioethicist at the University of Oxford. She is the founder and current head of Bioethics and Engagement at the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU). Phaik Yeong was the head of MORU’s Clinical Trials Support Group for seven years.  Before moving to MORU, Bangkok in 2007, she worked in the Clinical Trials & Research Governance office at Oxford.

She currently manages MORU’s community and public engagement programme that aims to ensure that MORU’s research is ethical, and responsive, and that its potential health impact is maximized. With colleagues at MORU, she has initiated many engagement activities in Southeast Asia, such as establishing public and community advisory groups (e.g. Tak Province Community Ethics Advisory Board in 2009), science theatre programmes, and science cafes in Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. A project she led, “Village Drama Against Malaria” won the 2019 University of Oxford Vice Chancellor’s Choice Award for Public Engagement.

Phaik Yeong’s research focuses on ethical issues arising in research with underserved populations, in particular how to ethically involve children, migrants, refugees and other vulnerable groups in research. Her other area of research is how to promote fair and equitable sharing of individual-level health research data, which includes how to ensure that data sharing and big data does not exacerbate existing inequalities between higher- and lower-income setting researchers.

Phaik Yeong was a fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Centre in Mar-Apr 2019. She has been a member of the Steering Committee of the Global Forum on Bioethics in Research (GFBR) since 2016, and a Board Member of the UN-affiliated Global Bioethics Initiative based in New York since 2018. She is a member of the Steering Committee of the University of Oxford’s MSc International Health & Tropical Medicine and teaches some of its ethics and engagement modules.

Phaik Yeong grew up in Malaysia, has a degree in Pharmacy, MSc in Bioethics and PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences. As part of her PhD work, she coordinated a multi-centre clinical trial on chronic prostatitis in Malaysia. 

Phaik Yeong was named one of Asia's most influential leaders in 2022 -