Research Projects
Understanding Progenitor Cells in the Formation of the Skeleton for Regenerative Medicine

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☒ MPhil/PhD ☑ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

Objective and Significance:

To decipher the molecular controls regulating the differentiation of progenitor cells within a developing joint to identify the “true” progenitor cells for the generation of anterior cruciate ligament and the articular cartilage. The knee ligaments in the knees can be tore during sport activities and do not repair. Like wise, the articular cartilage also do not repair well once damaged that will lead to a degenerative condition such as osteoarthritis. Thus, finding the most effective stem/progenitor cells for the repair of these ligament will provide novel therapeutic treatments.

Research Plan and Methodology:

The general approach is to decipher the precise cellular differentiation in the formation of a knee joint in the mouse, using specific genetic tools that allow the tagged and trace cells in development. We will use molecular biology techniques to identify cells and to isolate cells for further investigation. A powerful approach is the use of single cell RNA sequencing to identify and characterize the difference cell population in a developing knee joint, and to use bioinformatics tools to cluster and map the potential “time line” in the differentiation process, follow by validation of the hypothesis back in the developmental process and then translated the information for the differentiation of human cells and test their potential to repair a damaged adult mouse knee joint as a proof-of-principle experiment.

Professor D Chan, School of Biomedical Sciences


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.