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Marine Science Graduate Program

Ngai Chin Lai, PhD

Associate Research Scientist, Department of Medicine
University of California, San Diego

Dr. Lai's area of interest is comparative physiology. He examines the cardiovascular systems of vertebrates and how adaptations relate to the ecophysiology of the animals he studies. His past projects have involved cardiovascular physiology of elasmobranchs and bony fishes.


Ph.D., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Marine Biology

M.S., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Marine Biology

B.A., Our Lady of the Lake University of San Antonio, Biology and Chemistry

Scholarly and Creative Work

Lai conducts his research projects in laboratories at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Veterans San Diego Healthcare System. Although his main interest is the cardiovascular physiology of vertebrates, he also carries out medical research on the treatment of congestive heart failure with gene therapy. For this work, he uses medical technology and state of the art equipment. With these tools, he was able to successfully challenge firmly held tenets about the filling mechanics of fish ventricles.

Lai also has studied cardio-respiratory specialization in high performance fishes such as tunas and lamnid sharks. Currently, he is examining the signal transduction pathway of cardiomyocytes in the regulation of heart function in animals with or without direct cardiac sympathetic innervation.