Research Projects
Establishing a Novel Transgenic Mouse Model with Human-Like Vertebral Joint Degeneration: A Future Platform for Screening Regeneration Therapeutics

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☒ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

Intervertebral discs (IVD) are the major vertebral joints responsible for spinal motion. Lumbar IVDs undergo age- and non-age related degeneration, causing low back pain and neurological deficits. Mouse models are widely used in dissecting physiology and patholobiology due to versatile molecular tools available and other benefits. However, the mouse spine is considered to have limited relevance to IVD degeneration because of distinct IVD anatomy and cellular composition from the human counterpart.

This project aims to establish a mouse model with human-like IVD degeneration via an inducible gene ablation strategy. Furthermore, by crossing with specific strains, how intrinsic cartilage regeneration capacity can modify the degeneration phenotype will be investigated. Assessment will involve a spectrum of histological, molecular, and imaging methodologies. This investigation will generate an important platform to better understand IVD degeneration and enable cost-effective evaluation of regenerative strategies.

Dr VYL Leung, Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology

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.