Research Projects
Impact of mental disorders and psychotropics on physical health outcomes, and risk prediction model development (severe mental disorder-specific) for outcome estimation

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☒ MRes[Med] ☑ URIS

People with mental illness, particularly those with severe mental disorders (SMD) have markedly increased risk of premature mortality and shortened life expectancy. Major causes of excess death mainly due to physical diseases. However, existing evidence is primarily derived from western countries. There is a paucity of data in Asian regions and Chinese populations. This project aims to systematically examine the impact of mental illness and psychotropic medications on physical health in Hong Kong, utilizing a territory-wide, population-based electronic health-record database. Associations of several major mental illnesses including schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder and depression with physical morbidity and mortality risks will be investigated. Additionally, risk prediction models for patients with SMD and co-existing diabetes mellitus on complication and mortality outcomes will be derived. Empirical data of the current study will facilitate development of mental disorder-specific risk algorithm for physical morbidity and mortality in Chinese populations.

Professor WC Chang, Department of Psychiatry

Professor WC Chang is a Clinical Associate Professor and Department Chairperson of the Department of Psychiatry at the School of Clinical Medicine, LKS Faculty of Medicine and a Principal Investigator of the State Key Laboratory of Brain & Cognitive Sciences, University of Hong Kong. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK), the Hong Kong College of Psychiatrists, Vice-President of the HK College of Psychiatrists and Member of the Advisory Committee on Mental Health of the Health Bureau. Professor Chang’s research interests include early intervention for psychosis, outcomes of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, clinical high-risk and psychosis prediction, negative symptoms, reinforcement learning and related paradigms for amotivation, as well as the impact of major mental disorders and psychotropics on physical health outcomes. He has published more than 200 articles in international peer-reviewed journals, including more than 70 first-/corresponding authored articles and 6 book chapters. He has been a HKU Scholars in the Top 1% for 5 consecutive years since 2019, and has received several research awards including such as the Early Psychosis Association Young Investigator Award, and the NARSAD Young Investigator Award by Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.

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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.