Research Projects
Why Retinal Ganglion Cells Degenerate in Glaucoma? - A Single-Cell Transcriptome Analysis of Retinal Ganglion Cells

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☑ MRes[Med] ☑ URIS

Glaucoma, characterised by chronic, progressive degeneration of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. While increased age and elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) are the two main risk factors for RGC degeneration, many glaucoma patients in Asia have normal levels of IOP. Understanding age-related increase in vulnerability of RGC death and why Asians are susceptible to glaucoma at normal levels of IOP is germane to develop new treatment options to protect and restore vision. This project will establish a single-cell RNA database of RGCs to discern the molecular mechanisms of optic nerve degeneration in glaucoma. Retinas will be isolated with RGCs purified for single-cell RNA sequencing. The profiling of age-related change in specific RNA transcripts will help identify new RNA targets for therapeutic intervention to prevent progression of RGC death or enhance the intrinsic ability of RGCs to regenerate axons.

Professor CKS Leung, Department of Ophthalmology

Research Areas and Interests:

  1. Diagnostic technologies for detection and monitoring of glaucoma and optic neuropathies  
  2. Biology of retinal ganglion cells and retinal nerve fibre layer 
  3. Neuroprotective and neuroregenerative therapies 


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.