Research Projects
Determinants of Liver Fibrosis and Cirrhosis: Viral Hepatitis, Steatosis and the Gut Microbiome

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☒ MPhil/PhD ☑ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

Objective and Significance:
To characterize determinants of advanced liver disease, i.e. severe liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, based on novel clinical and laboratory-based diagnostics

Research Plan and Methodology:
We have an established registry of patients with advanced liver disease, including patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. We aim to investigate the role of emerging and novel markers in predicting liver-related outcomes.

Novel markers include:

  • Viral markers for HBV, which reflect different parts of the HBV life cycle;
  • Imaging techniques facilitating accurate quantification of fibrosis and steatosis;
  • Stool biomarkers reflective of the gut microbiome, reflecting microbial dysbiosis along the gut-liver axis.

We will explore the observational and interventional role of such markers in the management of advanced liver disease.

Professor WWK Seto, Department of Medicine

Prof Wai-Kay Seto graduated from the University of Hong Kong and received his Fellowship in Gastroenterology and Hepatology from the Hong Kong College of Physicians and his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Hong Kong in 2012. He is currently a Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine and Principal Investigator of the State Key Laboratory of Liver Disease, the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. He is also Assistant Hospital Chief Executive (Research) and Medical Director, Clinical Trials Center of the University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital, Shenzhen, China. 

Prof Seto is currently ranked by Clarivate Analytics in the top 1% worldwide by research. He has published more than 200 international journal articles and book chapters, including leading-authored articles in the Lancet, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Journal of Hepatology, Gut, Hepatology and American Journal of Gastroenterology, majority related to research on chronic liver diseases. He has secured a total of over 25 million HKD in external competitive grant funding, has over 90 local, regional and international invited lectureships. He is a principal investigator of over 10 phase I-III international industry-sponsored clinical trials. 

Prof Seto has been awarded the American Gastroenterological Association Fellowship (2021); Sir David Todd Lectureship, Hong Kong College of Physicians (2019); the Asia-Pacific Digestive Week Emerging Leader from the APDW Federation (2018); Faculty Knowledge Exchange Award (2018), The University of Hong Kong; Guangdong Province Outstanding Young Medical Talent Award (2017); Outstanding Young Research Award (2016-2017) from The University of Hong Kong; and the Distinguished Young Fellow (2013) from the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine.

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.