2015 Senior Research Fellow: Kenneth Kam Wing Lo

23 June 2015

Professor Kenneth Lo Kam-Wing is an internationally-recognised inorganic chemist at the City University of Hong Kong with expertise in the synthesis of phosphorescent compounds used as biological probes in imaging.

Lo has been carrying out research in the utilisation of luminescent transition metal complexes as biological probes and imaging reagents for organelles and tissues. As of May 2015, Lo has published 116 research papers with a total of 6,002 citations and counting. His research has demonstrated that luminescent inorganic and organometallic transition metal complexes can be developed into a new generation of biological reagents for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. In the past decade, he has led the design and synthesis of a wide range of strongly luminescent transition metal complexes containing reactive functional groups, which enable the complexes to be used as labels for various biological molecules including DNA, amino acids, peptides and proteins. In the past few years, his research focussed on the cytotoxicity, cellular uptake, intracellular transport and localisation properties of luminescent transition metal complexes. Almost all the complexes designed by Lo show high membrane permeability and efficient cellular uptake by mammalian cells, indicating that the complexes can serve as novel intracellular sensors and bioimaging reagents, with potential applications as therapeutic cytotoxic agents.

Lo will use the period of his 2015 Senior Research Fellowship to further study bio-orthogonal probes and photo-activated reagents. His “organelle-selective” approach represents potentially a significant advance in this highly competitive field of research. In conducting this multidisciplinary study, Lo will collaborate closely with biologists to complete biological and imaging studies of the resulting compounds.

Lo received his BSc and PhD degrees from the University of Hong Kong and, with the support of a Croucher Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, he spent two years at the University of Oxford before returning to Hong Kong to join the faculty of CityU as an Assistant Professor. He became Associate Professor in 2003 and Professor in 2011. Lo is currently a Professor at the Department of Biology and Chemistry at CityU.

Croucher Senior Research Fellowships are prestigious awards supporting mid-career scientists in Hong Kong universities who wish to spend more time on research, and less time on their heavy teaching and administrative commitments. In selecting the awardees for the Senior Research Fellowships the Croucher Foundation Trustees were assisted by a group of eminent scientists from nine countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, UK and the USA. All candidates in this exercise went through a stringent process of assessment and selection, and are Hong Kong scientists internationally recognised to be at the forefront of their respective fields.

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