Research Postgraduate Studies
Shenzhen Bay Laboratory-HKUMed (SZBL-HKUMed) PhD Programme

The Shenzhen Bay Laboratory-HKUMed (SZBL-HKUMed) PhD Programme, jointly established by the Shenzhen Bay Laboratory (SZBL) and HKUMed, has been launched in the 2024-25 academic year. The SZBL-HKUMed PhD Programme is designed to strengthen the connections between Hong Kong and Shenzhen in basic research and translational science, and to provide students with access to cutting-edge research facilities and resources from both institutions.

SZBL, initiated by Guangdong Provincial Party Committee and Provincial Government, is one of the second batch Guangdong provincial laboratories. SZBL was founded under the provincial government's initiative of establishing and cultivating a host of high-quality research institutes in Guangdong province with the hope of having a few of them eventually becoming National Laboratories. SZBL is led by the Innovation Committee of the Science and Technology of Shenzhen Municipal Government and Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School, and jointly supported by other research institutions and universities in Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macao. The major research fields of SZBL are bioinformatics, biomedicine and biomedical engineering.

Students under the SZBL-HKUMed PhD Programme will be registered as a full-time 4-year PhD student in HKU, and be co-supervised by PIs from both HKUMed and SZBL. The students will spend the first 2 years (Years 1 and 2) at HKU, and the subsequent 2 years (Years 3 and 4) at SZBL. This arrangement is flexible subject to students' coursework and research requirements, but the time spent at HKU and SZBL should be evenly distributed (2 years each). The two-year period spent in SZBL will be counted towards their study leave. 

As supported by SZBL, admitted students will receive monthly Postgraduate Scholarships (PGS) per HKU prevailing rates (current rate at HK$18,390, subject to annual review and adjustment) during their first 2 years at HKU, and a monthly stipend of no less than RMB10,000 (subject to adjustments by SZBL) during the subsequent 2 years at SZBL. Any additional costs related students' scientific research and doctoral dissertation in SZBL will also be borne by SZBL.

In addition, HKU-SZBL PhD candidates may apply for the annual Director's award through nomination by their supervisors. The award is set up for three research directions: Biology, Chemistry, and Inter-discipline, with one awardee in each direction. Candidates are selected based on their academic performance such as course study, publication etc. Each winner would receive a personal cash award of RMB30,000 (pre-tax).

HKUMed PIs will serve as Primary Supervisors of PhD candidates and SZBL PIs will act as co-supervisors. Both HKUMed and SZBL supervisors will play an active role in the supervision of students, and to communicate effectively about the study progress of the students through HKU's bi-annual progress reports, reporting on any student achievements, violations and disciplinary actions, discussion on adjustments to research focus, etc. Both parties will review the students' progress reports and make recommendations as appropriate.

Recruitment of students will take place globally following HKU and HKUMed's arrangement and timeline, all international/local/mainland students will be considered. Candidates may be recommended by either HKUMed or SZBL and interviewed by potential supervisors from both sides. Candidates are required to complete all HKU application procedures and the Primary Supervisors should submit their recommendations per usual practice. All recommended candidates must fulfil the PhD entry requirements of HKU Graduate School (GS) and HKUMed. 

Potential candidates are expected to discuss with their supervisors about the terms of studying/conducting research in SZBL, including but not limited to special financial and accommodation arrangements. Only candidates who agree to these terms will be considered for admission under this programme.

SZBL-HKUMed candidates are required to pay tuition fees to HKU per usual RPg arrangements.

All SZBL-HKUMed PhD candidates will be required to fulfill HKU and HKUMed coursework requirements, and are expected to complete all compulsory courses in the first two years. If necessary, students may return to Hong Kong to take courses or take part in other academic activities in their 3rd and 4th years. Supervisors are responsible for bearing relevant costs using the supervisor's fund subject to mutual agreement.

Students will spend 2 years out of the normative 4 years of PhD studies in SZBL to perform their research work for their thesis. Most research experiments will be performed at SZBL during these 2 years.

Thesis submission and oral examination will be arranged following HKU and HKUMed regulations and procedures.

Students who have fulfilled the graduation requirements and completed the programme as stipulated by HKU regulations will be awarded a PhD degree by HKU and be issued a 'Letter of Completion for Joint Training Programme for PhD" by SZBL. A note for participation in the collaborative programme will also be included in the HKU transcript.

If students cannot meet the graduation requirements of HKU after the normative study period of 4 years and need to extend their candidature, the continuation fee for each three-month period thereof and other costs associated with the candidature extension shall be borne by the student and/or supervisor's fund, subject to mutual agreement between the student and the supervisor(s), as stipulated in HKU's regulations.

Accommodation and transportation
During the 3rd and 4th years in SZBL, a rental subsidy of RMB750 per month will be provided to the SZBL-HKUMed PhD candidates. Should students need to return to Hong Kong/HKU to conduct experiments and/or attend HKU academic activities and stay overnight, supervisors will cover the transportation and accommodation costs using the supervisor's fund, subject to mutual agreement.

Medical insurance coverage
Students will have access to the University Health Service and will be covered by the relevant insurance policies as detailed in the GS Handbook. During the period of study at SZBL (i.e. Years 3 and 4), students will be covered by medical insurance arranged by SZBL.

Students from Hong Kong and Macau do not need study permits to study in mainland China. Students from Mainland China and Macau are required to apply for a study permit to study in Hong Kong (1st and 2nd Years). International students (i.e. students who are not permanent residents of Hong Kong nor mainland China) will need to apply for relevant study permits both to study in Hong Kong (1st and 2nd Years) and mainland China (3rd and 4th Years).

Should you require further information on the PhD programme, please contact:
Professor Honglin Chen (
Ms Weiqi Zhang ( and Ms. Shi Xu (