Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☒ MPhil/PhD ☑ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

Objective and Significance:

Upon completion of the project, students should be able to:

  1. Create new bioinformatics algorithms or software for processing metagenomics data
  2. Evaluate the technical and clinical validity system developed
  3. Apply the new bioinformatics methods to discover microbial contribution to cancer risk, diagnosis or prognosis.

Research Plan and Methodology:

Metagenomic data from human stool samples provide a good source of information about the gut microbiome. It is increasingly appreciated that some specific compositions of the human gut microbiome may be associated with cancer risk, or can be used as a tool for diagnosis and prognosis. These metagenomic data are typically large and complex. Efficient and reliable bioinformatics algorithms and software are required to extract information from these data. In this project, the student will design, modify or extend meteagenomics analysis software. In addition to software design and development, the student will conduct evaluation of the prototype software to provide evidence that the software pipeline has achieve a suitable level of technical and clinical validity. The student will apply their pipeline to process large metagenomic data from public repositories or data from our collaborators. An ideal candidate for this project will have experience with computer programming. Training will be provided. This project will involve collaboration with appropriate computational and clinical experts.

Professor JWK Ho, School of Biomedical Sciences

Professor Ho is an Associate Professor in the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). He completed his BSc (Hon 1, Medal) and PhD in Bioinformatics from the University of Sydney, and undertook postdoctoral training at the Harvard Medical School. Prior to joining HKU, Professor Ho was the Head of Bioinformatics and Systems Medicine Laboratory at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, in Sydney Australia. His research focuses on developing and applying cutting-edge computational methods for single cell RNA-seq analysis, metagenomics, and digital health. Professor Ho has over 100 publications, including first or senior papers in leading journals such as Nature, Genome Biology, Nucleic Acids Research and Science Signaling. Professor Ho is also currently the Academic Lead of the Bioinformatics Core of the Centre for PanorOmic Sciences (CPOS) at HKU. He is an Executive Editor of the journal Biophysical Reviews.


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.