Research Projects
Bone Regeneration mediated by central nervous system (CNS)-skeletal axis

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☒ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

Interoception is a newly emergent area, indicating that CNS can control the internal state of human body. In fact, the skeletal system has abundant sensory and sympathetic innervations that connect bones with the CNS. We first discover that new bone formation can be triggered by this specific pathway through the direct injection of metal ions (e.g., copper, magnesium and zinc) to the injured bone.

We identified that the inflammatory cytokines secreted from macrophages upon the stimulation of metal ions, particularly prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), serve as inflammatory cues to activate the sensory nerves in bony tissue. When these afferent nerves sense the inflammatory cues in PGE2 receptor 4, they can then convey the interoceptive signals to the CNS. These signals will be processed in the brain and loop back to the injured bone for healing through the sympathetic nervous system.

The discovery of the skeletal interoceptive circuit in bone healing process offers us a new treatment strategy on many challenging cases clinically, such as severe bone fracture, osteoporosis and heterotopic ossification found in some brain injury patients. Compared with the conventional therapeutic agents, the approach of using direct metal ion injection in bone tissue is a promising and cost-effective alternative. The immune-neural axis described in this study can also inspire the development of next-generation of implantable biomaterials that can better harness the healing power of various metal cations.

Professor KWK Yeung, Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology

Professor Kelvin Yeung is passionate in orthopaedic biomaterial research and his major research areas cover from the design of orthopaedic biomaterials, antibacterial nano-materials, 3D bio-printing as well as musculoskeletal tissue engineering. He trained as materials scientist for his bachelor’s degree and then as an orthopedic scientist in HKU Medical Faculty for his master’s degree and his Ph.D. He has particularly focused to the area of bone-to-implant osseointegration, bone regeneration and antibacterial treatments these years.

He is currently tenured full professor and chief of research division in the Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, School of Clinical Medicine, LKS Faculty of Medicine (HKUMed), The University of Hong Kong. His h-index (Scopus) is 70 with 16,000+ citations and 78 (Google Scholar) with 20,000+ citations and i10-index 245. He has also been ranked as the Top 1% Scholars Worldwide in the field of biomaterials by Clarivate Analytics’s Essential Science Indicators (ESI) from 2014-2022 consecutively. In addition to his more than 290 peer-reviewed SCI journal papers published and 41 filed full patents in various countries, he had co-founded the OrthoSmart Limited together with two senior colleagues so as to translate their research findings to clinical use. Furthermore, he has been appointed as the consultants of Hong Kong listed medical and/or biomaterials incorporations.

During these years, he participated in local and regional competitions and received a number of awards and scholarships, including the Young Scientist Award 2005 and the Young Engineer Award 2009 and Faculty Research Output Award 2019. For projects in which he has acted in the capacity of principal investigator or co-principal investigator, he has received over HK$86,200,000. Professor Yeung is also a strong advocator for diversity, equity, and inclusion. He has trained 7 postdocs, 30 Ph.D. students, 19 MS students, and 4 FYP undergraduate students for research and over 50% of them are female, African, or people from middle-east countries. Furthermore, he has received 20 prizes and awards from local and international competitions and conferences. He has been invited to deliver more than 80 plenary lectures, keynotes or invited talks at international and regional conferences. Professor Yeung is an active member of local and international academic bodies and has served in several executive positions. He is also the Associate Editor of Bioactive Materials Journal (Impact factor (2021): 16.874, Ranking: 1/44 in materials science (Biomaterials)), the Secretary and founding member of Chinese Association for Biomaterials (CAB), the Chair of Orthopaedic Biomaterials, Society for Biomaterials (SFB) USA, the past Treasurer of CAB and the past Vice-Chair of SFB Orthopaedic Biomaterials. In addition, he has been appointed as the Warden of HKU Simon K. Y. Lee Hall, where he oversees the student education development.

HKU Scholars Hub

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

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.