Research Projects
Cracking Down Bacterial Infection in Bone by New Photo-Responsive Nanoparticles

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☒ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

Bio-metals have been extensively used in orthopaedic implantations. However, bacterial infection and unsatisfactory integration at the bone-implant interface remain major post-operative complications. Due to these complications, implant loosening, the malunion or non-union of the bone fracture and the failure of the implant are sometimes documented following surgical implantation. A variety of coatings, e.g., silver nanoparticles, antibiotics, calcium phosphate, antimicrobial peptide and bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2), have been developed to either combat bacterial infection or induce bone-implant interfacial integration. However, none of them is able to fulfil the antibacterial and osteogenic capabilities simultaneously. Thus, a safe and multi-functional coating that simultaneously enables the killing of bacteria and bone-implant integration is proposed. To address this clinical challenge, our team strives to develop various photo-responsive antibacterial nanomaterials. For instance, a zinc-oxide-containing hydrogel embedded with specific nanostructures can greatly enhance the photocatalytic and antibacterial activity of ZnO due to the dramatic production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) given by stimulation with visible light (320–780 nm). This hydrogel system kills 95.95% of Escherichia coli (E. coli) and 98.49% of Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) within 20 min upon exposure to visible light (320–780 nm). Additionally, we aim to translate the research findings into real clinical applications through collaboration with industrial partners. If successful, this project should benefit the hundreds of thousands of patients undergoing orthopaedic procedures yearly, eliminating the risk of the post-operative complications associated with implant-related bacterial infections.

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.