Research Projects
Exploring Upstream Factors Related To Physical, Mental and Social Well-Being: Leveraging a Ten-Year Large Prospective Cohort

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☒ MPhil/PhD ☑ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

Objective and Significance:

The FAMILY Cohort is the first large-scale local programme to study physical, mental and social well-being in accordance with the WHO’s definition of health. The proposed research will sought to identify modifiable environmental factors that influence health.

Research Plan and Methodology:

The FAMILY Cohort consists of a large dataset of 46,000 individuals, including a random population representative sample. Data collected include socio-demographics, anthropometrics, lifestyle and behavioural factors, health services use, and standardised instruments assessing physical, mental and social well-being.

The student may select factors which interest him/her, such as lifestyle factors and physical health (e.g. hypertension, diabetes, obesity), mental health (e.g. depression, suicide, psychological distress, health-related quality of life) and/or social aspects of health. Students will be provided training in the analysis of large datasets that would be relevant to future clinical and public health research.

Professor MY Ni, School of Public Health

Professor Michael Ni is currently Clinical Associate Professor in the Division of Community Medicine and Public Health Practice. He trained in internal medicine at Queen Mary Hospital, pursued postgraduate studies at Harvard University, and obtained a higher doctorate by research in psychiatric epidemiology from the University of Hong Kong. Professor Ni is a specialist in public health medicine and has been conferred Fellowships by the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine (Community Medicine), Hong Kong College of Community Medicine, and the United Kingdom’s Faculty of Public Health, and Membership of the Royal College of Physicians.

As a public health physician, Professor Ni’s interdisciplinary research spans across different fields while maintaining a focus on population mental health. His primary area of research is in psychiatric epidemiology, and revolves around prevailing and emerging determinants of mental health. Since 2014, Professor Ni’s research programme has been supported by over 35 grants, including 20 as PI or Co-PI with funding over HK$100 million.

Professor Ni is Programme Director for the FAMILY Cohort (n=46,001), a large population-based cohort study in Hong Kong. He serves as a Principal Investigator and on the Executive Committee of the State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and holds a joint appointment with the Faculty of Architecture. Professor Ni is the Principal Investigator for the World Health Organization World Mental Health Composite International Diagnostic Interview-5 in Hong Kong. He is responsible for coordinating modules in both the undergraduate medical and postgraduate public health curricula. Professor Ni’s research has been cited in BBC, Bloomberg, CNN, The Guardian, among others.


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.