Research Projects
A Novel Vaccination Strategy: Using a Microrobot Platform for DNA Vaccine Delivery and Antigen Presentation

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☒ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

The development of an effective vaccination strategy to control the outbreak of COVID-19 is urgently needed. All vaccines currently being developed, regardless of whether they are based on genes or proteins, must consider how they are to be delivered to target cells accurately and quantitatively. In this proposal, we propose to develop a novel vaccination strategy by applying a microrobot platform to achieve DNA vaccine delivery and antigen presentation. In this collaborative project, we will apply functionalised microrobots to the preclinical testing of animals; the ability of two types of microrobots to elicit antigen-specific antibodies and T cell responses will be evaluated in mice. Preclinical tests on animals will lay an important foundation for future human clinical trials.

Dr ZW Tan, Department of Microbiology

Dr Tan's research interest is focused on tumour immunotherapy; the concept of harnessing the immune system to attack and eradicate tumours. Tumour cells modify internal proteins in different ways to healthy cells, a process fundamental to a cell becoming cancerous. These abnormal modifications can be recognised by T cells and his research is to develop immunotherapeutic for eliciting anti-tumour cytotoxic T cell immunity, such as tumour antigen vaccine and oncolytic virotherapy. Another focus of his research is studying the mechanisms which are exploited within the tumor microenvironment (TME) to suppress immune responses. Tumoural immune suppression is a major hurdle to permitting effective tumour immunotherapy. His current study is developing strategies to improve anti-tumour responses by targeting novel immunosuppressive molecules such as immune checkpoint receptors, or immunosuppressive cells, with a particular focus on myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC).


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.