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Lau Group

Chemical and synthetic biology
We re-engineer macromolecules found in nature to create new medicines, materials and catalysts.

Our research

Our research involves a mix of organic chemistry, synthetic biology and protein engineering.

We are based in the School of Chemistry. We collaborate widely with research groups locally and internationally. Our group is also part of the Sydney Nanoscience Institute.

Two primary areas of research in our group are:

Protein nanocompartments as scaffolds for catalysis and drug delivery

We are investigating the chemical and biological modification of encapsulins, bacterial proteins that spontaneously assemble into hollow ~30 nm shells (Nat. Commun. 2018, 9, 1311). A unique feature of encapsulins is their ability to house other molecules via a simple and engineerable packaging process. We are creating encapsulins filled with synthetic cargo as a platform for next-generation catalysts and vesicles for targeted drug delivery.

Peptide-based therapeutics for inhibiting protein-protein interactions

Peptide-based macrocyclic compounds are a highly-underexploited class of molecules in drug development. These compounds can emulate the potency of protein drugs, and the pharmacokinetic properties of small molecules. We are establishing new strategies for synthesising libraries of macrocyclic ‘stapled’ peptides (Nat. Protoc. 2015, 10, 585-594; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 15410-15413) to identify new anti-cancer drug candidates.


Our people

  • Dr Yu Heng Lau
  • Lachlan Adamson, Honours student
  • Paris Jeffcoat, joint Honours student with Associate Professor Liz New
  • Reginald Young, Honours student
  • Chuyang Zhang, Nanjing exchange student
  • Erin Humphries, TSP student
  • Lucy Jimenez, TSP student


For information about opportunities to work or collaborate with the Lau Group, contact Dr Yu Heng Lau via Research Supervisor Connect.

Yu Heng Lau

Lecturer in Chemistry
  • School of Chemistry F11, University of Sydney NSW 2006