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Dr Kevin Lam

Dr Kevin Lam BSc, MSc, PhD, MRSC

Dr Kevin Lam

Dr Kevin Lam

Reader in Medicinal Chemistry

Department of Pharmaceutical, Chemical & Environmental Sciences

Faculty of Engineering & Science

In 2010, Dr Kevin Lam received his PhD in Medicinal and Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, under the supervision of Professor Istvan Marko. His doctoral work explored the use of electrochemistry and photochemistry as green alternatives to activate organic molecules. This work resulted in the development of a new radical-based deoxygenation reaction (the Lam-Marko reaction).

After his PhD, he moved to the University of Vermont (UVM). His research focused on applying analytical/physical electrochemistry alongside spectroscopy to study the complex redox behaviour of organometallic compounds.

This work bolstered the use of weakly coordinating electrolytes/solvents as an electrochemical medium to allow for the generation and characterisation of highly reactive and unstable 17e- organometallic radical-cations. Additional work at UVM led to the pioneering of a new method to modify electrode surfaces through an ethynyl linkage. The covalent attachment of molecules to an electrode surface is fundamental to the field of molecular electronics and numerous material applications.

In 2013, he accepted a position of Assistant Professor at Nazarbayev University in Astana. During his time in Kazakhstan, Kevin developed a new research program in the field of Molecular Electrochemistry. His work led to the development of new organometallic anticancer compounds as well as to the discovery of novel, efficient and green electrocatalysts for CO2 recycling.

In 2017, Kevin accepted a Reader position in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Greenwich in the U.K. where he continues his interdisciplinary research.

Course Participation

  • Elements of Drug Discovery (Level 4) 
  • Further Organic Chemistry (Level 5) 
  • Intermediate Chemistry (Level 5) 
  • Advanced Organic Chemistry 1 (Level 6) 
  • Advanced Organic Chemistry 2 (Level 6) 
  • BSc Research Project (Level 6) 
  • Medicinal Chemistry and Biological Chemistry (Level 7) 
  • MChem Research Project 
  • MSc Research Project
  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (MRSC)
  • Member of the American Chemical Society
  • Member of the Electrochemical Society
  • Member of the Vermont Cancer Center
  • Member of the Societé Royale de Chimie (Belgium)
Our laboratory is currently studying the syntheses of a variety of biologically active molecules with important pharmacological properties. We are particularly interested in developing new organometallic drugs. The concise synthesis of such molecules is a challenge that stimulates us to develop new synthetic methodologies that enable the construction of several bonds and/or rings in a single step and control the chiral centres formed in the process. Much to our delight, our first molecules are now receiving patents in the United States.

Although our research is usually presented in several subgroups, such as the development of new and efficient synthetic methodologies or organometallic chemistry, our topics are thoroughly integrated. For example, various chemical syntheses rely upon the development of new and efficient organometallic catalysts or the use of a new method of activation such as electrochemistry. This close overlap in our research topics has led us to bring our findings all together in a single place.

1. Medicinal Electrochemistry –  Collaboration with Professor Claire Verschraegen (James Hospital – Ohio State University)

Our group combined medicinal chemistry, organic synthesis and electrochemistry to develop a new research field: Medicinal Electrochemistry. Our unique approach is to use electrochemistry not only as a way to prepare new libraries of redox active compounds but also as a way to investigate their bioelectrochemical properties. As a result, we developed and patented a new class of organometallic anticancer compounds. 

2015 Vermont Cancer Center - In collaboration with the Vermont Cancer Center and Fletcher Allen Hospital. 

Preclinical Anti-cancer Studies of Novel Chloroquine Derivatives. 15 000 USD (6 months) – co P.I.

2014 ORAU (Oak Ridge Associated Universities) - Nazarbayev University Grant.

In collaboration with the Vermont Cancer Center and Fletcher Allen Hospital.  850 000 USD (4 years) – P.I. 

2. Electrocatalysed Reduction of Carbon Dioxide – Collaboration with Professor Richard Kemp (Sandia National Laboratories / University of New Mexico – USA)

While many serious issues and problems now face the human population, perhaps the ones with the largest effects on the long-term viability and success of the planet's inhabitants are those of energy availability and global climate change. These two issues are in part connected in a chemical sense via the simple carbon dioxide (CO2) molecule.

 Despite the view that main group (s and p block) elements are often considered relatively "simple" elements, Professor Kemp has found in his previous work that unusual and surprising chemical behaviour is often demonstrated by complexes of these metals.  

Ideally, our overall concept for the preparation of a new CO2 electroreduction catalyst is to use a) an inexpensive, earth-abundant metal complex, in b) a solvent system that is "green" (ultimately water or ionic liquids), under c) mild conditions of temperature and pressure, to d) interact with and reduce CO2 to either CO or other small molecules that can be converted into transportation fuels by known catalytic processes, e.g., Fischer-Tropsch, by e) using free electrons capable of being generated by renewable means such as electrochemistry.

 The overall concept consists in making an electro-catalyst bearing a Lewis acid and a Lewis base. Much to our delight, the first generation of electrocatalysts has proven to be efficient in reducing CO2 into CO, however, the exact mechanism is still under investigation.

2015 Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan - In collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories (USA). Preparation of Novel Green CO2 Electrocatalysts.

150 000 USD (3 years) – P.I.

3. Activation of Organic Molecules Using Electrochemistry

Electrosynthesis is a powerful tool in organic chemistry that circumvents the previous issues by allowing to generate radicals under mild and green conditions. Even though a plethora of transformations have been developed and many of them were successfully used in several industrial processes, the potential of preparative organic electrochemistry remains largely underestimated. However, the growing impetus to look for greener and cheaper alternatives to classic synthetic methodologies prompted us to investigate further new electrochemical methodologies.

We recently developed novel electrochemical methodologies to prepare phthalides, dihydroisocoumarins, isoindolinones and dihydroisoquinolones through electrochemically generated aroyloxy and benzamidyl radicals.

2013  Nazarbayev University SEEDS Grant: Electrochemical Activation of Organic Molecules. 17 000 USD (2 years) – P.I.

"Electrochemical synthesis of phthalides via anodic activation of aromatic carboxylic acids" Hayrapetyan D., Shkepu V., Seilkhanov O. T., Zhanabil, Z., Lam K., Chem. Commun., 2017, 53, 8451

"One-electron oxidation of chloroquine, cymanquine, and related aminoquinolines in nonaqueous media" Lam K., Van Wyck S. J., Geiger W. E., J. Electroanal. Chem., 2017, 799, 531

"Molecular Oligogermanes and Related Compounds: Structure, Optical and Semiconductor Properties" Zaitsev K., Lam K.. et Al. , Chem. Asian J., 2017, 12, 1240

"Oligogermanes containing only electron withdrawing substituents: synthesis and properties" Zaitsev K., Lam K.. et Al. , Organometallics, 2017, 36, 298

"Nickel(II) and Nickel(0) complexes of bis(diisopropylphosphino)amine:  Synthesis, Structure and Electrochemical Activity" Dickie D. A., Chacon B. E., Issabekov A., Lam K., Kemp R. A., 2016, Inorg. Chim. Acta, 2016, 453, 42

"Synthesis and Anodic Electrochemistry of Cymanquine and Related Complexes" Lam K., Geiger W. E., J. Organomet. Chem., 2016, 817, 15.

"Anodic Methods for Covalent Attachment of Ethynylferrocenes to Electrode Surfaces: Comparison of Ethynyl Activation Processes" Sheridan M. V., Lam K., Sharafi M., Schneebeli S. T., Geiger W. E., Langmuir, 2016, 32, 1645

"Electron-transfer catalyzed cycloaddition reactions of unactivated cyclic olefins in weakly coordinating anion electrolyte" Stewart M. P., Lam K., Chong D. Geiger W. E., J. Electroanal. Chem., 2015, 743, 68

"Spontaneous Attachment of Lithium-Activated Ferrocenylalkynes to Carbon and Gold"
Electrochemistry Communications, Sheridan M. V., Lam K., Geiger W. E., Electrochem. Commun., 2015, 52, 63

"Influence of Cyclopentadienyl Ring-Tilt on Electron-Transfer Reactions: Redox-Induced Reactivity of Strained [2] and [3] Ruthenocenophanes", Russell A. D., Gilroy J. B., Lam K., Haddow M. F., Harvey J. N., Geiger W. E., Manners I., Chem. Eur. J., 2014, 20, 16216.

"Polyferrocenylsilane Homopolymers and Diblock Copolymers with Pendant Ruthenocenyl Groups by Photocontrolled Ring-Opening Polymerisation", Erhard M., Lam K., Haddow M., Whittell G. R., Geiger W. E., Manners I., Polym. Chem., 2014, 5, 1264.

"Covalent attachment of porphyrins and ferrocenes to electrode surfaces through direct anodic oxidation of terminal ethynyl groups" Sheridan M. V., Lam K., Geiger W. E., Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2013, 49, 12897 VIP Article 

"Anodic Oxidation of Disulfides: Detection and Reactions of Disulfide Radical Cations" Lam K., Geiger W. E., J. Org. Chem., 2013, 78, 8020

"An Anodic Method for Covalent Attachment of Molecules to Electrodes Through an Ethynyl Linkage" Sheridan M.V., Lam K., Geiger W.E., J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2013, 135, 2939

Browse our publications database

2017    University of Greenwich "Medicinal Electrochemistry: A New Field"

2016    City University of Hong Kong – The 6th Asia-Oceania Conference on Sustainable and Green Chemistry

2016    Stanford Bio-Invest Forum - "Cymanquine, a new potent anticancer agent"

2016    The Hong Kong Polytechnic University – "Electro-Drug Design: Cymanquine, a new potent anticancer agent"

2015    Tianjin University: "Medicinal Electrochemistry"

2015    University of Vermont Medical School: "From Organic Chemistry to Medicinal Electrochemistry"

2015    Ghent University: "From Organic Chemistry to Medicinal Electrochemistry"

2015    Hong Kong Chinese University: "Medicinal Electrochemistry: A New Strategy"

2014    MIT – Skolkovo Institute of Technology: "Medicinal Electrochemistry: Bridging the Fields"

2014    Nazarbayev University – Student Research: "Why should I do research?"

2013    Nazarbayev University – Research Week: "Medicinal (Electro) Chemistry"

2012    Vermont Cancer Center – Fletcher Allen Hospital: "Medicinal (Electro) Chemistry"

2012    A.C.S. Meeting : "Chemical and Electrochemical Cyclobutanation of Non-Activated Olefins"2012    Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro: "Synthetic Electrochemistry – Bridging the Fields"

Browse our publications database