Research Projects
Long-Term Effects of Blood Volume Expansion on Cardiac Function and Aerobic Capacity: Influence of Sex and Age

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☑ MRes[Med] ☑ URIS

The relevance of aerobic capacity, as determined via exercise testing, for cardiovascular health has been demonstrated for over a century. The higher the aerobic capacity the greater the likelihood to be free of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in female and elderly populations. Understanding the principal mechanisms that determine aerobic capacity remains essential for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. According to well-established physiological principles, blood volume is a major determinant of cardiac output and thereby aerobic capacity. Yet, the vast majority of studies supporting our current understanding comprise young male individuals. Whether blood volume governs cardiac output and aerobic capacity remains uncertain in females and individuals with advanced age, both groups presenting with low blood volume and high susceptibility to cardiovascular disease. The present project will elucidate the chronic impact of blood volume expansion on cardiorespiratory fitness in female and elderly populations, therefore addressing a relevant knowledge gap with major clinical applications. We are specifically looking for highly motivated students from diverse backgrounds (e.g., Medicine, Kinesiology, Biomedicine, Nursing) willing to pursue a Master’s degree or Doctorate. A certification to take blood samples is desired.

Dr D Montero Barril, School of Public Health

Dr Montero is a human integrative physiologist. He was trained at the Cardiovascular Research Institute of Maastricht (Netherlands), the Zurich Center for Integrative Human Physiology and the Department of Cardiology at the University Hospital of Zurich (Switzerland). His research is strongly influenced by the Scandinavian School of Integrative Physiology. In brief, he welcomes challenging questions, specifically those with the potential to arise the necessary intrinsic motivation to be enthusiastically immersed in them. Current research questions converge upon fundamental mechanisms underpinning adaptations in aerobic capacity, one of the strongest performance (endurance) and clinical (all-cause mortality) predictors. Embracing integrative approaches, his laboratory focuses on the interplay of cardiovascular, haematological and metabolic systems at their most relevant point, i.e., at peak work capacity. Exercise is implemented as means to magnify and thereby facilitate the understanding of key intertwined mechanisms of the human body in health and disease. 


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.