Research Projects
Characterisation of Driver Mutations in Colon and Stomach Cancers Using CRISPR-Engineered Organoids

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☑ MRes[Med] ☑ URIS

Our team is interested in understanding the molecular pathogenesis of colon and stomach cancers. We have previously established a living biobank of patient-derived organoid cultures including normal, pre-neoplastic, neoplastic and metastatic lesion organoids. This project will focus on the characterization of mutations that cause deregulation of signalling pathway and drive colon and stomach cancers. In particular, we aim to create or knock-out driver mutations in normal or tumor organoids, respectively, via CRISPR/Cas9 genomic editing. In vitro cellular and functional assays, in vivo xenograft assay and pathway analysis using NGS data will be performed to evaluate the tumorigenic properties and drug responses of individual driver mutations. 

We are looking for candidates who are highly motivated, can work both independently or as a team, and with wet lab experience in biological or biomedical science. Students will become proficient in 3D organoid culture, a wide range of molecular techniques, single-cell sorting, and NGS data analysis.

Professor HHN Yan, Department of Pathology

Professor Yan Hoi Ning Helen received her BSc and PhD degrees at The University of Hong Kong (HKU). She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology, HKU. She is a molecular biologist and her research focuses on the molecular pathogenesis of colon and stomach cancers. In 2012, she joined Prof Hans Clevers team as a visiting scholar to learn the organoid culture, and she has brought the knowledge back to Hong Kong for further development in the area of colon and stomach cancers. She has secured over HK$ 5 million funding mostly based on organoid culture since 2015. Her research findings have been published in high impact factor journals as first author or correspondence, including Nature Genetics, Cell Stem Cell, GUT and PNAS.


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.