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University of Exeter Medical School

 Mitchell Lai

Mitchell Lai

Honorary Associate Professor, Dementia Neurochemistry



Mitchell Lai is currently a Senior Lecturer with the Department of Pharmacology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore. Besides teaching medical, nursing, dental and pharmacy modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, he also holds research positions with the Memory, Aging and Cognition Centre, National University Health System, as Deputy Director and Lead for blood biomarkers development; as well as an honorary professorship with the University of Exeter where he collaborates with several Exeter staff members on dementia neurochemistry. In this role, Mitchell also aims to foster student and researcher exchanges and interactions between Exeter and Singapore.

Previously, Mitchell was a Principal Research Scientist at the Department of Clinical Research, Singapore General Hospital, as well as a visiting researcher at the University of Oxford and Kings College London, where he developed his research interests in dementia pathophysiology and neurochemistry.   

Mitchell's full bibliography can be found here:


  • 1995 – BSc (University of Alberta, Canada)
  • 2003 – PhD (University of Sydney, Australia)

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Research interests

The overarching aim of Mitchell’s research is to gain insights into disease mechanisms underlying both neuropsychiatric and cognitive aspects of dementia which lead to clinically meaningful outcomes, including the development of biomarkers, therapeutic targets and leads.


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Research projects

  • Neurochemical Correlates of Dementia: Using post-mortem tissues and longitudinal clinical data, Mitchell’s research team has studied alterations of cholinergic, serotonergic, glutamatergic and GABAergic markers in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and vascular dementia (VaD). They are especially interested in identifying neurochemical perturbations underlying behavioural (including neuropsychiatric symptoms), neuroimaging and neuropathological changes with the aim of identifying targets for rational receptor-based pharmacotherapeutic strategies and clinical predictors. More recently, they have begun investigating Lewy body dementias as well as tackling the neurochemistry of ‘non-classical’ systems involving purines, histamine and neuropeptides.
  • Neurotransmission, Amyloid and Tau: Much work has been done on characterizing the key pathological processes of AD. However, how these processes regulate, or are regulated by, neurotransmission remain largely unknown. Mitchell is interested in studying the physiological and pathophysiological interactions between neurotransmitter receptor function / signaling, beta-amyloid protein processing and tau phosphorylation.
  • Biomarker Discovery: Mitchell is interested in brain- and blood-based profiling of protein, lipid, metabolite and gene expression changes using multiplex and bioinformatics approaches. The goals are to i) elucidate the genetic and epigenetic factors which determine onset and progression of neurodegenerative dementias, and ii) uncover useful biomarkers which provide insights into disease pathogenesis and/or have value as prognostic or therapeutic targets.
  • Novel Anti-Alzheimer Drugs: Mitchell is interested in characterizing purported anti-inflammatory, cognition-enhancing, disease-modifying and psychoactive properties of bioactive compounds, as well as studying how these properties may be exploited as adjuvant therapies to enhance treatment efficacy.

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