Law Sai Kit, Alex
Telephone: +65 6316 2851
- B.Sc.(Hons) - Physics, California Institute of Technology (1972)
- Ph.D.- Biology, Harvard University (1978)
After my PhD from Harvard, I worked for three years as a Research Associate at the Department of Genetics, Washington Unviersity School of Medicine in St Louis, USA. I moved to Oxford in 1981 to work with Professor R R Porter in the MRC Immunochemistry Unit, Department of Biochemistry. I became a member of the Immunochemistry Unit in 1986 and worked there until I joined NTU in April 2002.
I am a protein chemist. My work has been focused on proteins of the immune system: the complement component C3, and the integrin adhesion molecules. The complement system consists of over 20 proteins in blood plasma. They remain inert until we are immunologically challenged. The key reaction in complement activation is the covalent deposition of the component C3 to the surface of foreign objects, such as microorganisms, to mark them for destruction and clearance. Among the many functions of C3, I am interested in its ability to enhance the immunogenicity of antigens. This is of potential importance in the design of effective vaccines against pathogenic microorganisms.
Integrins are the most versatile adhesion molecules which participate in cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions. My interest lies in the regulation of the adhesion properties of the integrins: At the structural level, what are the conformational changes that promote an integrin from its non-adhesive state to its adhesive state? At the cellular level, what are the events that lead up to the activation of the integrins, and what subsequent events lead to the gross phenomena of cell migration and proliferation? Since integrin activities have been linked to health disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis (the b2 integrins in the migration of leukocytes into the synovium), stroke (the integrin aIIbb3 in aberrant platelets aggregation and thrombus formation leading to undesired infarctions), and cancer (the integrin aVb3 in the directed growth of blood vessels into tumours), the study is both of academic interest and clinical importance.