Research Projects
Promotion of Respiratory Health by Improving Awareness of Environmental Exposure to Air Toxics among School Children

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☒ MPhil/PhD ☑ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

Objective and Significance:

To investigate gaps in knowledge about respiratory effects of air toxics in children with a view to promoting environmental health

Research Plan and Methodology:

  • Recruitment of school children to air toxic exposure measurements and respiratory responses monitoring.
  • Identification of sensitive subgroups such as asthmatic children who are under specialty care.
  • Linkage of medical and school records. Statistical analysis of health effects of air toxics.
  • Development of practice guidelines with environmental medicine.

Professor LW Tian, School of Public Health

Professor Linwei Tian is an environmental epidemiologist with a focus on air pollution and health. He has been conducting field epidemiology and laboratory work on indoor air pollution and lung cancer in Xuan Wei County, which has the highest lung cancer rates among women in China. Identifying the carcinogenic agents in coal and its emissions would affect local intervention policies and gain insights into the carcinogenesis mechanisms.

Meanwhile, Professor Tian gains a strong research interest in exploring the potential role of food contamination by biogenic siliceous needles in the endemic cancer of esophagus in China. The geographic patterns of esophagus cancer endemics offers a unique natural experiment in assessing environmental carcinogenesis. Based on the previous evidence on glass (silica fiber) roots of cancer, Professor Tian hypothesizes wheat bract-derived glass fibers and needle-shaped diatoms in guts of trash fish as a major causative factor of esophagus cancer endemic in North China and southern China, respectively.

Urbanized Hong Kong provides another unique setting to study air pollution and health. Its high density of people and vehicles, high-rise buildings, a rich resource of accessible environmental measurement and healthcare data, and various air pollution control policies offers a great opportunity for valuable environmental epidemiology. Compared with static data, time series data contain far more information at our disposal for the inference of causality. Professor Tian has been trying to examine the earlier ambiguity and enhance causal inference of the environment-health associations by contrasting the traditional time series regression models with the recent methods of causal discovery from big data.

HKU Scholars Hub
Laboratory Homepage

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.