Research Projects
Clinical Significance of Subclinical Myocardial Involvement in Recovered COVID-19 Patients using Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (R-COVID-CMR)


Programme(s) to which this project applies:

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

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) remains a major health issue resulting in >800,000 deaths as of 30th August 2020. A concerning discovery of COVID-19 is the involvement of the myocardium. Several case studies including one from our group (recent study publication in JACC Cardiovascular Imaging led by the principal investigator of this grant application) have demonstrated subclinical myocardial inflammation in patients using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) who have recovered from COVID-19. Furthermore at a cellular level, a recent autopsy study indicated that the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 is present in the myocardial tissue. The study further described invasion and viral progeny occurring in the myocardial interstitial cells and as such is a concerning development with the longer-term implications being unknown. These concerns have been noticed by the cardiology and non-cardiology medical community, with some expressing concerns of a new cause for cardiomyopathy and heart failure secondary to COVID-19. Therefore, it is critical that further studies are conducted to determine the longer-term outcome for patients.

We hypothesise that in recovered COVID-19 patients, (i) a significant number of patients will show subclinical myocardial involvement/ inflammation early post-discharge by CMR, and (ii) a proportion will have cardiac abnormalities detectable by follow-up CMR at 1 year that correlates to structure, function, blood biomarkers of inflammation and functional status.

Our primary aims are to determine:

  1. The extent of myocardial involvement, as assessed by CMR tissue characterisation (T1/ T2/ ECV/ LGE), 2 weeks after patient recovery, at 3-months post discharge and at 1-year post discharge.
  2. The correlation of these myocardial characteristics to biventricular structure, function (CMR cine/strain), blood biomarkers of inflammation, clinical symptoms, and functional capacity (6 minute walk test) at all time-points

Secondary aims:

  1. Follow-up patients beyond the end of this study to assess for hard outcomes such as death, heart failure hospitalisation, cardiac arrest and ventricular tachycardia/ fibrillation.
About the Supervisor

Dr MY Ng, Department of Diagnostic Radiology

Dr Ming-Yen Ng, BMedSci(UK), BMBS (UK), FRCR(UK), FSCMR, FACC is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Diagnostic Radiology, The University of Hong Kong. He is the division Chief of Cardiac Imaging at the HKU– Shenzhen Hospital, China.

Dr Ng completed his medical and radiology training in the UK and sub-specialised in cardiothoracic imaging. He subsequently undertook a 1 year cardiac CT and cardiac MR fellowship in Toronto General Hospital, Canada.

Dr Ng is a fellow of the Society of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance and serves as the vice-chair of the education committee. He also has level 3 accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography and sits on its corporate relations committee. He is the course director of the highly successful cardiac MRI and CT Massive Open Online Courses produced by HKU.

He set up the cardiac MRI units in the University of Hong Kong and HKU-Shenzhen Hospital. He has obtained >HK$20million in funding for cardiac imaging projects and has published cardiothoracic imaging papers in journals such as JACC Cardiovascular Imaging, Circulation Cardiovascular Imaging, European Heart Journal Cardiovascular Imaging and Radiology.

Students who have worked in his unit have published in multiple journals including high impact journals. Dr Ng is keen to develop students to in their medical and research knowledge. Students will also be given privileged access to the MOOC on cardiac CT and MRI.

Biography
myng2@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.