Research Projects
Identification of Novel Oncogenes and Tumour Suppressor Genes Involved in Gastrointestinal Cancer Development and Stem Cell Regulation Based on Gene Expression Profiling, Chromosomal Copy Number Profiling and Epigenetic Studies in Genomics Scale


Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☒ MPhil/PhD ☑ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS
About the Project

Objective and Significance:

Aim

Based on genomics technologies, to identify new oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes involved in gastrointestinal carcinogenic process and normal stem cell maintenance. To characterize the function of these genes using in vitro and in vivo studies.

Significance

Cancers of the colon and stomach are the most common cancer types in the world. Understanding the genetic or epigenetic alterations in oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes will enable us to understand how these cancers develop. These genes may also constitute target for drug development, and help to develop new markers for early detection and prevention of cancer. Recent advances in array technology has enable us to achieve high throughput global analysis of gene expression changes, chromosomal amplification or deletion, and aberrant regulation of DNA methylation; all of these contribute significantly to activation of oncogene and tumour suppressor genes leading to the cancer phenotype. Our laboratory has been using these genomics technology to study colon and stomach cancer, as well as the normal stem cell compartment of these respective organs. By comparison of the gene expression changes amongst these normal and neoplastic tissues, we have identified new oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes that are the determinant of specific pathways of oncogenesis or affecting patient outcome.

Research Plan and Methodology:

Cancers of the colon and stomach are the most common cancer types in the world. Understanding the genetic or epigenetic alterations in oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes will enable us to understand how these cancers develop. These genes may also constitute target for drug development, and help to develop new markers for early detection and prevention of cancer. Recent advances in array technology has enable us to achieve high throughput global analysis of gene expression changes, chromosomal amplification or deletion, and aberrant regulation of DNA methylation; all of these contribute significantly to activation of oncogene and tumour suppressor genes leading to the cancer phenotype. Our laboratory has been using these genomics technology to study colon and stomach cancer, as well as the normal stem cell compartment of these respective organs. By comparison of the gene expression changes amongst these normal and neoplastic tissues, we have identified new oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes that are the determinant of specific pathways of oncogenesis or affecting patient outcome.

About the Supervisor

Professor SY Leung, Department of Pathology

Professor Leung Suet-yi is the Head and Chief of Service of the Department of Pathology at Queen Mary Hospital. She is also a Clinical Professor, Chair of Gastrointestinal Cancer Genetics and Genomics, and Director of the Hereditary Gastrointestinal Cancer Genetic Diagnosis Laboratory at the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong. She has published in numerous high impact journals, such as Cell Stem Cell, Nature Genetics, Gut and PNAS. Her innovative research has received numerous awards, including the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine Faculty Outstanding Research Output Award in 2012, 2015, 2017 and 2019. In 2014, she was also honoured with the Outstanding Women Professionals Award. Professor Leung has consistently secured both public and private funding for her research projects, including over $30 million HKD from the Theme-Based Research Scheme (TBRS), as well as partnerships with the major pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and Merck, among others.

Biography
suetyi@hku.hk

Next Step?

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 rpgmed@hku.hk.

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.