Research Projects
Contribution of Stem Cell Maintenance to Ageing

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☒ MPhil/PhD ☑ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

Objective and Significance:

The work is to test the strategy that can be applied to restore the stem cells from Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome. Stem cell decline is commonly observed in aging processes. However, mechanism behind is not fully understood. On one hand, niche may have an important role in maintaining stem cell renewal. On the other hand, the proper function in eliminating reactive oxygen species would protect stem cells from stress. In animals with accelerated aging, rapid decline of stem cells in bone marrow and tissues such as muscles are likely cell autonomous as these stem cells or progenitors will undergo senescence when transplanted to wild-type mice. We will investigate how mutation in lamin A contributes to rapid decline of stem cells in premature aging and what can be done to slow-down the stem cell decline in mice and in human premature aging disease.

Research Plan and Methodology:

1. We will reprogram fibroblasts from HGPS patient into iPS and then differentiate into MSCs to examine changes in epigenetics and SIRTs (SIRT1 and SIRT6).

2. We will test if modulate epigenetics, particularly histone acetylation would be beneficial to HGPS MSCs.

3. We will test if resveratrol would be able to restore the renewal and function of HGPS MSCs.

4. We will test the combination of modulating epigenetics and SIRT1/6 activities would further enhance the stem cell potency in HGPS MSCs.

5. Gene expression will be determined in the MSCs treated with different strategies to determine the pathways that are responsible for the rescue.

Professor ZJ Zhou, School of Biomedical Sciences


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.