Research Projects
Investigation on lactobacillus, lactate, and pH changes in regulating human endometrial receptivity and predicting pregnancy outcome (HMRF)

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☒ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

Infertility is a common reproductive problem worldwide. It affects one in six couples of reproductive age. Successful pregnancy needs a suitable micro-environment in the uterus for embryo development and implantation. The nutrient requirements (e.g., pyruvate, lactate, amino acids, or glucose) and oxygen consumption of developing embryos changes with time. In fact, blastocysts produce lactate that was found to affect various biological processes important for implantation and early placental development. In line with a decreasing pH at the implantation site through lactate production by the human blastocyst, a Lactobacillus dominant (LD) environment also favor embryo implantation. Therefore, we hypothesize that the LD uterine environment contains high lactate and together with the embryo-derived lactate lowers the uterine pH favoring embryo implantation. Specifically, we aim to test if lactate is a regulator for implantation and whether an LD uterine environment can predict IVF success.

To test the above hypotheses, we will investigate several objectives in this proposed project: (1) Investigate the role of lactate and pH in the implantation process; (2) Delineate the functional role of lactate on trophoblast invasion, angiogenesis, and immune tolerance; (3) Determine whether the microbiome in the uterine fluid can be used to predict pregnancy outcome in IVF patients.

Results from this study should allow us to understand the role of LD on embryo implantation through regulation of uteri pH, and develop a useful tool to predict and enhance implantation through manipulation of pH, lactate, and LD as prophylaxes to enhance IVF success.

Professor CKF Lee, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Professor Lee got his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and trained in postdoctoral training at Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA. He joined the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at The University of Hong Kong as a Research Assistant Professor in 1998 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2008. He was Past-President of the Hong Kong Society for Reproductive Medicine, and the Hong Kong Society of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Reproduction. He has published more than 90 original articles in international journals with an H index of 32 (total citation >3000). His students have obtained many international and local awards including ‘The Best Poster Award of Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR) – Southeast Asia Region’.

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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.