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Work on Human Brain

Work on Human Brain

Lai Hei Ming's Story 
Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine

“In general, due to work on weekdays, I would be available after 5pm for a phone interview.” wrote Lai Hei Ming, a current medical intern. Having an interview after work, one can imagine the exhaustion. But for Lai, this might not be a big deal. Back in his day as an MBBS undergraduate, he spent hours in laboratory after class researching on a new tissue clearing solution, OPTIClear. His research brought him the 11th China Youth Science and Technology Innovation Award and a patent, and his research paper was published in Nature Communications, where publishes high-quality research from all areas of the natural sciences.  

The aim of developing the tissue clearing solution, OPTIClear, is for human brain scanning. Traditional method of brain scanning cuts brain tissues into thin slices, thereby forming a 2D image. This process is time-consuming, given the complexity of brain structure. To solve this problem, the newly invented OPTIClear makes brain tissue transparent without damaging the initial structure. Coupled with the use of fluorescent staining which selectively colors cells, the new technology gives researchers a thorough 3-dimensional views of neuronal circuits in human brain.

When Lai first started the research, he was only a year 3 medical student and definitely not the first person to come up with this idea. But his spirit of seeking answers to unsolved questions is as admirable as other pioneers. Lai worked in the laboratory of Imperial College London in a summer to gain a first-hand experience. He then initiated the research project at HKU and developed the technology. After a year of preparation, he flew back to Imperial College London to apply his technology in human brain scanning.

“I won’t think about how tired I am when I am doing something I’m truly interested in.”

Now, even after graduation, Lai said he would continue to use his spare time after work to further research on his project. “I really like to ask questions and find answers,” said Lai. “I won’t think about how tired I am when I am doing something I’m truly interested in.”

Written by:
Clare Wong
Year 3, Faculty of Arts
February 2019

Work on Human Brain