Research Projects
Develop New Covalent Drug Lead Compounds to Target Undruggable Proteins for Effective Cancer Therapy

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☒ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

Proteins lacking deep binding pockets were once considered as undruggable, i.e. not possible to develop therapeutic agents by targeting these proteins. Recently, covalent drug has been found to be an answer to some of these undruggable proteins. Through specific covalent bond formation between covalent drug and the functional amino acid on cancer-associated protein, the covalent drug can bind strongly onto the undruggable protein with high specificity, which is important for achieving low toxic side effects to normal cells and tissues. The strong binding on functional amino acid also allows significant modulations of the protein activities, thus giving rise to promising therapeutic outcomes.

Our lab is developing new covalent drug lead compounds with excellent biostability, fast reaction kinetics with functional amino acids on cancer-associated proteins and unique chemical scaffold directing the compounds toward specific protein targets. We employ high-throughput screening and activity-based protein profiling (ABPP) experiments to identify lead compounds with strong and specific binding onto the protein target(s). Then, through biochemical assays, live-cell experiments and small animal studies, we can examine the mechanism of actions of these anticancer compounds, and this helps us to better understand structure-activity relationship of these compounds for further drug lead optimisation.

Professor CYS Chung, School of Biomedical Sciences

Professor Clive Chung is an Assistant Professor in the School of Biomedical Sciences and Department of Pathology, HKU. His research interest is in chemical biology, particularly in developing novel chemical compounds and technology to study underexplored but important redox signalling. His lab is also working on new covalent drug lead compounds for cancer therapy through specific targeting cancer-associated proteins.


For more information or to express interest for this project, please email the supervisor or the specified contact point in the project description.  Interested candidates are advised to enclose with your email:

  1. your CV,
  2. a brief description of your research interest and experience, and
  3. two reference letters (not required for HKUMed UG students seeking MRes[Med]/URIS projects).

Information on the research programme, funding support and admission documentations could be referenced online at the Research Postgraduate Admissions website. General admission enquiries should be directed to

HKUMed MBBS students interested in the Master of Research in Medicine (MRes[Med]) programme may visit the programme website for more information.  

HKUMed UG students interested in the Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme (URIS) may visit the scheme’s website for more information.