Titan Lai 賴天恆

  • Scholarship in 2023 at Imperial College London

About Titan Lai’s work

Titan Lai is a PhD student in chemistry whose research focuses on developing biomedical probes for targeting heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), an important enzyme in humans that regulates the concentration of a toxic molecule called heme.

Studies have shown that the overexpression of HO-1 is linked to a number of diseases including atherosclerosis and cancer. Despite the importance of HO-1, no known chemical probes for reporting HO-1 activity exist, hence limiting its potential as a diagnostic/prognostic marker for these diseases. This was until recently, when the Long group developed a probe that detects HO-1 activity using a fluorescence-based method. Lai's project seeks to improve this probe’s properties for live imaging applications and to develop analogues with the potential for translating to point-of-care testing.

The second part of Lai's project involves creating novel anti-cancer agents that can overcome the resistance of cancer cells towards photodynamic therapy resulting from HO-1 overexpression. This will be achieved through the combining of photosensitisers (light-activatable drugs used in photodynamic therapy) with reported HO-1 inhibitors as earlier studies have shown that such combinational therapies can increase the effectiveness of the anti-cancer treatment.


Titan Lai completed his MSci Chemistry at Imperial College, London in 2022, graduating with first-class honours. In 2018, he received a Hong Kong Scholarship for Excellence Scheme and, in 2021, a Margaret Goodgame UROP Prize from Imperial College. He is currently conducting his PhD research at the same institution.