A Conversation with Teik-Chye

Name: Teik-Chye Chan

Title: Research Associate, Infectious Disease

Organization: Naval Medical Research Center

Time with HJF: 25 years, three months

Teik-Chye has been an HJF employee since February 1994. His research contribution and dedication for the Department of Defense began 62 years ago when, in 1957, he began as a temporary employee at the U.S. Army Medical Research Unit-Malaysia while Malaysia was still a protectorate of Great Britain. In 1958, he was hired as a Foreign Service National employee, where he worked until it closed in 1989. Teik-Chye spent approximately the next year and a half assisting with the demobilization of the unit, which included training (to ensure the capabilities remained) as well as moving the valuable biological inventory. He was subsequently offered the opportunity to move to the United States to work at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research as a contractor, which he accepted. Teik-Chye arrived in the United States in 1991, and his family joined him a month later. After several years, he moved to the Naval Medical Research Center in 1994 as an HJF employee. Teik-Chye, as Research Associate, is an integral member of the Infectious Disease Directorate and its Viral and Rickettsial Diseases Department, where he takes on many roles, most notably animal and tissue culture research activities, as well as assuming general lab duties and serving as a rickettsial/laboratory historian. In Malaysia, he had a multidisciplinary role and performed animal, laboratory, and field work in the fields of virology, malaria, and rickettsia. The knowledge and expertise that he has acquired, which goes beyond institutional knowledge, continues to be a valuable asset to military and infectious disease research.   

Teik-Chye's years of excitement and dedication to the research missions of HJF, as well as to the DoD, provide a constant source of inspiration and motivation to employees and collaborators of the HJF, Navy and Army. Every day he continues to work hard, with no indication of retiring anytime soon. 

--submitted by Heidi St. John, M.S., Research Associate, HJF, in support of Viral and Rickettsial Disease Program, Naval Medical Research Center


What do you love most about the work you do? Part of my work requires me to propagate Orientia and Rickettsia organisms in mice, cell culture and in the yolk sacs of embryonated chicken eggs. It is very challenging and exciting to observe these abundant organisms on the stained slides. These obligate coccobacillus intracellular parasites are used in various serological and molecular assays to detect both human and animal rickettsial antibodies.

What book or journal have you recently enjoyed? The last journal I read was the “American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene,” which included a historical review of the interrelationships of the rickettsial diseases and their arthropod vectors: ticks, lice, fleas and chigger mites.

What are you passionate about? My ultimate goal is, hopefully, to see in the not too distant future a highly-effective immunogenic, FDA-approved vaccine for use in humans to prevent the rickettsial diseases.

Who would you most like to swap places with for a day? Maybe one of my colleagues within the same department.

If you could visit anywhere in the world you’ve never been, where would you go? Preferably, I would like to visit the North Pole to observe the magical aurora borealis light.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your colleagues at HJF?
Since I am hired by HJF to work for the DoD for the advancement of military medicine, I would like to likewise encourage all my colleagues at HJF to do the same diligently.