Research Projects
Embryo Implantation and Endometrial Receptivity

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☒ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

Infertility problem is getting more and more attention nowadays as most couples tends to have their baby later than before. Approximately 15% of couples have difficulty in conceiving and need fertility treatment. Since the introduction of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment in 1978, millions of couples conceived and delivered their baby. It is estimated that about 5% of deliveries came from IVF treatment worldwide. However, even though good quality embryos are transferred in IVF treatment, 75% of couples failed to conceive and/or get pregnant, and it is partly due to implantation failure or pregnancy loss. In fact, successful implantation depends on a synchronised endometrium development with developmentally competent embryo, as well as decidualised environment of the stromal cells. The microenvironment of the maternal reproductive tract changes by secreting various factors or macromolecules, and expressing adhesion/receptor molecules to provide the best microenvironment for embryo implantation. In humans, the embryo can only implant onto the endometrium within a limited time period corresponding to days 5 to 9 after the luteinising hormone surge. This particular period is known as the ‘Window of Implantation’ (WOI) when the endometrium becomes receptive to an embryo. Accumulating evidence suggests various soluble ligands and their receptors, and steroid hormones mediate endometrial receptivity and embryo implantation. Till now, no single molecule or receptor has been identified to play an essential role on embryo implantation. We are interested in how different intrinsic and extrinsic factors regulate endometrial receptivity.

Currently, the following projects will be offered:

  1. Effect of small molecules on embryo implantation,
  2. Identification and characterisation of endometrial surface molecules and miRNAs that modulate embryo implantation, and
  3. Use of microbiome composition for pregnancy outcome prediction in IVF patients.

Dr CKF Lee, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Dr. 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.