Research Projects
Cracking Down Bacterial Infection in Bone by New Photo-Responsive Nanoparticles

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☒ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS
About the Project

Bio-metals have been extensively used in orthopaedic implantations. However, bacterial infection and unsatisfactory integration at the bone-implant interface remain major post-operative complications. Due to these complications, implant loosening, the malunion or non-union of the bone fracture and the failure of the implant are sometimes documented following surgical implantation. A variety of coatings, e.g., silver nanoparticles, antibiotics, calcium phosphate, antimicrobial peptide and bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2), have been developed to either combat bacterial infection or induce bone-implant interfacial integration. However, none of them is able to fulfil the antibacterial and osteogenic capabilities simultaneously. Thus, a safe and multi-functional coating that simultaneously enables the killing of bacteria and bone-implant integration is proposed. To address this clinical challenge, our team strives to develop various photo-responsive antibacterial nanomaterials. For instance, a zinc-oxide-containing hydrogel embedded with specific nanostructures can greatly enhance the photocatalytic and antibacterial activity of ZnO due to the dramatic production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) given by stimulation with visible light (320–780 nm). This hydrogel system kills 95.95% of Escherichia coli (E. coli) and 98.49% of Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) within 20 min upon exposure to visible light (320–780 nm). Additionally, we aim to translate the research findings into real clinical applications through collaboration with industrial partners. If successful, this project should benefit the hundreds of thousands of patients undergoing orthopaedic procedures yearly, eliminating the risk of the post-operative complications associated with implant-related bacterial infections.

About the Supervisor

Dr KWK Yeung, Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology

Kelvin Yeung has been passionate about applied orthopaedic biomaterial research and translation for more than 20 years. His major research areas include orthopaedic biomaterials, antibacterial coatings, 3D bio-printing and musculoskeletal tissue engineering. He trained as a materials scientist for his bachelor’s degree and then as an orthopaedic scientist in HKU Medical Faculty for his master’s degree and his PhD.

He is currently tenured professor in the Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, The University of Hong Kong. His h-index is 49 (Scopus) with 8,061 citations and 54 (Google Scholar) with 10,010 citations. He has been consecutively ranked as the World’s Top 1% of Scientists in the field of biomaterials by Clarivate Analytics’ Essential Science Indicators (ESI) from 2014 to 2019. In addition to publishing 250 peer-reviewed SCI journal papers and filing 38 full patents in various countries, he co-founded OrthoSmart Limited with two senior colleagues to adapt their research findings for clinical use. He currently serves as interim CEO of the startup company. Furthermore, he has been invited to act as a consultant for several medical device and biomaterial corporations.

During these years, he participated in local and regional competitions and received a number of awards and scholarships, including the Young Scientist Award 2005 and the Young Engineer Award 2009 and Faculty Research Output Award 2019. For projects in which he has acted in the capacity of principal investigator or co-principal investigator, he has received over HK$75,000,000. Since 2006, he has supervised 14 PhD and 8 MPhil students. Furthermore, he has received 20 prizes and awards from local and international competitions and conferences. He has also been invited to deliver 80 plenary lectures, keynotes or invited talks at international and regional conferences [28th Sept 2020].

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Next Step?

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