Research Projects
Cost-effectiveness and return on investment analyses of biologics/biosimilars used in autoimmune diseases

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☑ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

Objective and Significance:

Biologics significantly changed the management of autoimmune diseases with significant improvement of treatment outcome and patient’s quality of life. However, the high drug cost hinders the utilization of these effective drugs. The study aims to evaluate the cost-effectiveness and return on investment of biologics (including biologics originators and biosimilars) by using disease simulation model and healthcare big data to inform the treatment and reimbursement decisions for bDMARDs.

Research Plan and Methodology:

Series of cohort simulation models will be developed to incorporate the clinical and economics profiles of patients with autoimmune diseases. Base on the model, mortality, quality of life, medical costs and indirect costs will be projected through lifetime horizon, and further compared among traditional treatments, biologics and biosimilars. Data source for model parameters include the territory-wide healthcare big data in Hong Kong, patient-based disease registry, landmark trials from international studies, published systematic review and meta-analysis.

Dr SX Li, Department of Medicine

Dr Li’s primary research interests lie in health technology assessment (HTA), health economics and real-world outcome (HEOR) research using decision analytic models and routine health data (healthcare big data). Dr Li has expertise in healthcare data analytics, cost-effectiveness assessment for healthcare interventions, and health service and policy research. Since joining HKU, Dr Li has led and contributed to many HEOR projects, all of which involves dynamic interactions with local and international academic collaborators, local government, industry partners, NGOs and other key opinion leaders.

Dr Li’s recent research focuses on biologics utilization and safety, the regional economic burden and cost-effective solutions for autoimmune diseases, and the development of outcome-based risk-sharing model for innovative and curative therapies. As a core member of CARE Programme (COVID-19 Vaccines Adverse Events Response and Evaluation Programme), Dr Li has led and contributed to several territory-wide, population-based vaccine safety assessment, particularly for patients with immunological conditions. Dr Li also acts as a Co-principal investigator of AI and Pharmaceuticals in Non-Communicable Diseases at the Laboratory of Data Discovery for Health (D²4H).

Dr Li’s research work has been supported by RGC/Early Career Scheme (PI), RGC/Research Impact Fund (PC), RGC/Collaborative Research Fund (co-PI), Health and Medical Research Fund of the Food and Health Bureau of Hong Kong SAR Government (PI). Dr Li has published actively in the field of HTA and health policy. She has co-authored more than 140 research articles in top-tier specialty journals including Lancet, JAMA, BMJ and Nature families.

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.