Department of Psychiatry

http://www.psychiatry.hku.hk
How can modern technology be applied in psychiatric research?
How can we better treat mental illness?

Major Research Areas

Behavioural genetics / statistical genetics /bioinformatics:
Development of statistical, computational and bioinformatic methods and tools for genetic studies of human diseases; application of modern genetic and genomic technologies to unravel the genetic basis of mental disorders and behavioural traits; collaborations with colleagues from other departments to study the genetics of other complex and mono-genetic disorders. 

Contact Persons
Professor P.C. Sham
Email: pcsham@hku.hk

Dr S.S. Cherny
Email:cherny@hku.hk

Dr Miaoxin Li
Email: mxli@hku.hk

Cognitive psychopathology:
Elucidation of abnormal psychological processes with cognitive science and neuropsychology methods - evolution of psychotic symptoms, illness awareness, executive function, attention impairments, motor system dysfunction, semantic memory impairments, social cognition, reward learning, eye gazing, characterisation of neurocognitive impairments in various psychiatric conditions; development of new assessment paradigms; use of neurocognitive markers in prognostic and intervention prediction; prospect of cognitive remediation; neurocomputational modelling: use of information technology and computer models in the study of thought processes and their disturbances. Brain imaging technology (MRI and fMRI) are required to study the various neurocognitive processes.

Social cognitive neuroscience of mental symptoms:
Detailed studies of individual psychopathology, such as reference idea, hallucination, insight, etc., from both phenomenology and cognitive neuroscience perspectives. Focus will also be put on the biological underpinning of each of the psychopathological phenomena with the use of various technologies, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

Psychosocial basis of mental symptoms:
Detailed studies of how environmental, psychosocial, and familial factors could influence the onset of psychosis, as well as the pathway to care, individual and family reaction to psychosis and intervention response. Relevant data and perspectives would help inform the next generation of interventional approaches.

Course and outcomes of psychotic disorders:
Characteristics of longitudinal progression and outcomes of psychotic disorder; prodromal stage of the illness, predictors of outcomes including relapse, treatment resistance and transition of prodromal state to first episode psychosis; subjective aspects of psychosis integration of illness experience including recovery, quality of life, care-givers’ experience and stigmatisation; suicide prevention; side effects of psychopharmacological intervention and potential effectiveness of interventions; study of interaction of environmental stress and genetics on the course of illness.

Psychological intervention for psychotic disorders:
Develop and evaluate specific intervention modalities targeting on different aspects of the needs of patients - improving functional outcome, symptom management, management of side effects of medication, and reduce conversion of prodromal state. Potential interventions include physical exercises, life coaching, specific cognitive behavioural therapy, psychoeducational group therapy, phase-specific case management in early intervention of psychosis, Omega-3 treatment, mindfulness training, and cognitive remediation.

Early intervention for psychosis:
Impact of early detection and early intervention for psychosis; identification of risk syndromes in Hong Kong; epidemiology of psychotic like symptoms; prediction of conversion to psychosis; intervention at prodromal level; case work for early psychosis; health economics of early intervention systems; public awareness and information campaigns in early psychosis.

Contact Persons
Professor E.Y.H. Chen
Email: eyhchen@hku.hk

Dr K.W. Chan
Email: kwsherry@hku.hk

Dr W.C. Chang
Email:changwc@hku.hk

Dr H.M. Lee
Email: edwinlhm@hku.hk

Dr Christy L.M. Hui
Email: christy@lmhui.com

Geriatric neuropsychiatry:
Dementia is a highly debilitating condition afflicting a significant number of the elderly population. It carries profound medical and socioeconomic burdens for society. Current treatment options have provided only limited success. Projects focus on (1) earlier detection of cognitive decline, (2) pharmacotherapy of dementing disorders, (3) prevention of cognitive deterioration, (4) psychiatric manifestations of dementia, and (5) pathogenesis of cognitive impairment. Positions in either laboratory scientific or clinical research will be offered to qualified candidates.

Contact Person
Dr W.C. Chan
Email: waicchan@hku.hk

Sleep and mood disorders:
Epidemiology, clinical presentation, etiology, and treatment of major sleep and mood disorders. Special interest in insomnia, bipolar disorder, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and stepped care for insomnia, TCM in sleep and mood disorders.

Contact Person
Dr K.F. Chung
Email: kfchung@hku.hk

Departmental Postgraduate Admission Advisor
Dr K.F. Chung
Email: kfchung@hku.hk

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