Research Projects
The Study of Ovarian Cancer Chemoresistance and Metastasis Through the Integrative Omics Analyses

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☒ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

Our gynae-oncology research team aims to carry out bench to bedside cancer research. Current areas of basic research concentration on genetic/epigenetic alterations in cancer development and progression, cancer stem cells (CSC), cancer cell metabolism, onco-immunology, interactions between cancer cells and the tumour microenvironment in gynaecological malignancies. These studies hope to provide a scientific basis for developing novel diagnostic tools and therapeutic interventions for improving treatment outcome of gynaecological cancer patients. Among gynaecological malignancies, epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is the most lethal gynecologic malignancy worldwide. This disease is generally called the ‘silent killer’ because there are non-specific symptoms, and thus, the majority of patients are found in advanced stages accompanied by extensive metastasis. Therefore, understanding the molecular mechanisms of related metastases may assist in the development of ‘targeted’ oncologic therapies to improve the cure rate of this disease. The cancer metastasis is determined by the priming of the metastatic niche and the intrinsic properties of cancer cells to adapt to the microenvironmental stresses. We have recently established omental conditioned media (OCM) to mimic the tumour microenvironment of peritoneal metastases of ovarian cancer. Through the integrative omics analysis, we have started to understand the novel approach of tumour-stromal interactions in pre-metastatic niche formation, and new targets have been identified in association with chemoresistance and recurrence of ovarian cancers. These studies will provide a scientific basis for developing novel diagnostic tools and therapeutic interventions for improving treatment outcome of ovarian cancer patients.
We welcome you to join us for the following projects,

  1. to identify circulating exosomal miRNAs as a non-invasive biomarker in ovarian cancer;
  2. to explore druggable targets in cancer cell metabolism;
  3. to delineate the roles of infiltrated immune cells and metabolites in promoting ovarian cancer metastasis.

Professor KKL Chan, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

After graduating in medicine from the University of Cambridge, UK, Prof. Karen KL Chan completed her specialty training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in both UK and Hong Kong. She obtained the fellowship of the Hong Kong College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (HKCOG) in 2005 and completed her subspecialty training in Gynaecological Oncology in 2008. She has obtained HKCOG accreditation as a specialist colposcopy trainer and advanced laparoscopy surgeon. She is a fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists ( RCOG ) since 2012. She obtained a Doctor of Medicine from the University of Hong Kong in 2022.

She is currently a clinical professor and chairperson at the Department of O&G, the University of Hong Kong. Apart from the clinical work at a tertiary gynecological oncology referral center, she is involved in both clinical and basic research, mainly in the area of gynecological malignancies. Her research interests include investigating effective treatment strategies for ovarian cancer with fewer side effects. Her basic research group is working on the delineation of underlying molecular mechanisms associated with tumorigenesis and chemoresistance of ovarian cancer. Her team is also investigating the possibility of dual targeted immunotherapy against ovarian cancer. She has published 148 peer-reviewed articles. The total number of citations exceeded 2909 and the h-index was 34. 

Prof Chan serves as an active member of the editorial board of the Journal of Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, ISRN Obstetrics, and Gynaecology. She is also a reviewer for a number of international journals. She is the President of the Hong Kong Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology and a council member of the Hong Kong College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. She is involved in several HKCOG committees for the improvement of clinical service and training in Hong Kong, as well as the secretary general for AOGIN (Asia-Oceania Organisation in Genital Infection and Neoplasia).

HKU Scholars Hub
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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.