Research Areas

School of Biomedical Sciences

What is cell signaling and how can we understand it at the molecular, genetic, structural and system levels?

How is cell signaling different in cancer, ageing and neurodegenerative, skeletal and infectious diseases?

What are the genes, proteins, molecular networks and mechanisms involved in growth and development of bones, cartilage, neurons and other tissues?

Where do different types of stem cells come from and how can they be harnessed to treat human diseases?

Major Research Areas

Adhesion signalling and invadosome regulation:
The research focuses on direct visualisation of signal transduction and molecular reorganisation at integrin-mediated cell adhesion sites. Focal adhesion, podosome, and invadopodia are multi-molecular adhesion machineries that the cell uses to adhere onto extracellular ligands and initiate downstream signalling. In particular, metastatic cancer cells form invadopodia at the cell-matrix interface and invade through the tissue. Integrin and integrin-associated molecules have been identified as therapeutic targets to inhibit cancer cell invasion. Cross talk between integrin and other membrane kinase plays critical roles in cell migration and invasion. A combination of advanced fluorescence microscopy and molecular/cell biology techniques will be utilised to decipher the adhesion-signalling network and suppress the formation of cancer invadosome.

Contact Person(s)

Dr C.H. Yu
Tel: 3917 9205
Email: chyu1@hku.hk

Bioinformatics:
Bioinformatics is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary field that focuses on developing and using computational, statistical and mathematical methods to solve problems in biology and medicine. Some examples of bioinformatics research activities in our school include discovering and analysing mutation patterns in cancer genomes, discovering rare stem cell populations in cancers using single cell genomic technologies, identifying how gene regulatory networks in developing embryos are disrupted to cause birth defects, and how genetic interactions regulate complex disease phenotypes.

Contact Person(s)

Dr L.W.T. Cheung
Tel: 3917 6908
Email: lydiacwt@hku.hk

Dr A. Javed
Tel: 2831 5395
Email: javed@hku.hk

Dr Y.Q. Song
Tel: 3917 9245
Email: songy@hku.hk

Dr A.S.L. Wong
Tel: 3917 9208
Email: aslw@hku.hk

Dr J.W.H. Wong
Tel: 3917 9187
Email: jwhwong@hku.hk

Cancer:
Cancer cell biology; intracellular signalling of oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes; cancer cell invasion and motility; telomere dynamics, telomerase and cell immortalisation; DNA damage and genomic instability; tumour metabolism and micro environment; cancer immunology and inflammation; cancer stem cells; molecular genetics of nasopharyngeal carcinoma and esophageal carcinoma; Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection and viral carcinogenesis; cancer epigenetics and molecular pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma; translational cancer medicine; precision cancer medicine; combination drug therapy; physiology and pharmacology of natural and synthetic small- and macro-molecules on normal and cancerous tissue growth.

Contact Person(s)

Dr A. Cheung
Tel: 3917 9293
Email: lmcheung@hku.hk

Dr L.W.T. Cheung
Tel: 3917 6908
Email: lydiacwt@hku.hk

Dr Y.P. Ching
Tel: 3917 9434
Email: ypching@hku.hk

Dr M.S.Y. Huen
Tel: 3917 6868
Email: huen.michael@hku.hk

Dr A. Javed
Tel: 2831 5395
Email: javed@hku.hk

Professor D.Y. Jin
Tel: 3917 9491
Email: dyjin@hku.hk

Professor P. Liu
Tel: 2831 5407
Email: pliu88@hku.hk

Dr S. Ma
Tel: 3917 9238
Email: stefma@hku.hk

Dr S.Y.W. Shiu
Tel: 3917 9261
Email: sywshiu@hku.hk

Professor G.S.W. Tsao
Tel: 3917 9227
Email: gswtsao@hku.hk

Dr A.S.L. Wong
Tel: 3917 9208
Email: aslw@hku.hk

Dr J.W.H. Wong
Tel: 3917 9187
Email: jwhwong@hku.hk

Dr C.H. Yu
Tel: 3917 9205
Email: chyu1@hku.hk

Cardiovascular physiology:
Neural and endocrine control of the cardiovascular system; cardioprotection of preconditioning and sex hormones; control of blood flow in skeletal muscle, nose and salivary glands; cardiovascular responses to acute hypoxia; cardiovascular molecular and cellular biology.

Contact Person(s)

Dr H. Ballard
Tel: 3917 9232
Email: ballard@hku.hk

Cellular signalling and stress biology:
Biochemical basis of cell signalling; cellular response to endoplasmic reticulum stress and oxidative stress; unfolded protein response; protein post-translational modifications; protein degradation; physiological responses to hypoxia and ischaemia.

Contact Person(s)

Professor D. Chan
Tel: 3917 9482
Email: chand@hku.hk

Professor K.S.E. Cheah
Tel: 3917 9240
Email: kathycheah@hku.hk

Dr Y.P. Ching
Tel: 3917 9434
Email: ypching@hku.hk

Dr M.L. Fung
Tel: 3917 9234
Email: fungml@hku.hk

Dr B. Gao
Tel: 3917 6809
Email: gaobo@hku.hk

Dr M.S.Y. Huen
Tel: 3917 6868
Email: huen.michael@hku.hk

Professor D.Y. Jin
Tel: 3917 9491
Email: dyjin@hku.hk

Dr N.S. Wong
Tel: 3917 9142
Email: nswong@hku.hk

Dr K.M. Yao
Tel: 3917 9275
Email: kmyao@hku.hk

Chemical biology:
Structural, functional and chemical approaches to probing molecular interactions and networks to elucidate the mechanisms of disease and therapeutic treatments.

Contact Person(s)

Dr J.A. Tanner
Tel: 3917 9472
Email: jatanner@hku.hk

DNA Damage Response and Human Diseases:
Define molecular mechanisms that underlie DNA damage detection and repair processes; Examine how genetic inactivation of DNA damage responses leads to human diseases; Identify exploitable vulnerabilities caused by defective DNA repair in the design and development of anti-cancer therapeutics; Understand the role of DNA repair in cell proliferation and organismal development; Profile and isolate genetic perturbations as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers of genome instability-associated diseases.

Contact Person(s)

Dr M.S.Y. Huen
Tel: 3917 6868
Email: huen.michael@hku.hk

Functional and developmental genomics:
Determination and analysis of gene function by gene targeting ('knock-out') technology in mice; studying perturbations in developmental processes and their impact on genes and gene function by comparative analyses of transcriptomes, proteomes and epigenomes. Specific areas include craniofacial and heart development, formation of the sensory organs and the skeleton, premature ageing processes, diabetic neuropathy, retinopathy, hypertension, stroke, and neurodegeneration and regeneration.

Contact Person(s)

Professor D. Chan
Tel: 3917 9482
Email: chand@hku.hk

Professor K.S.E. Cheah
Tel: 3917 9240
Email: kathycheah@hku.hk

Dr M.C.H. Cheung
Tel: 3917 6867
Email: mcheung9@hku.hk

Dr B. Gao
Tel: 3917 6809
Email: gaobo@hku.hk

Dr J.W.K. Ho
Tel: 3917 9512
Email: jwkho@hku.hk

Professor M.H. Sham
Tel: 3917 9240
Email: mhsham@hku.hk

Dr A.S.L. Wong
Tel: 3917 9208
Email: aslw@hku.hk

Professor Z.J. Zhou
Tel: 3917 9542
Email: zhongjun@hku.hk

Functional proteomics:
Generation and comparative analysis of proteomes using 2-D MS/MS or ICAT LC-MS/MS; proteomic changes associated with cellular changes in health and disease using in vitro and in vivo approaches.

Contact Person(s)

Professor D. Chan
Tel: 3917 9482
Email: chand@hku.hk

Professor K.S.E. Cheah
Tel: 3917 9240
Email: kathycheah@hku.hk

Dr J.A. Tanner
Tel: 3917 9472
Email: jatanner@hku.hk

Human molecular genetics:
Human genetic analysis and characterisation of predisposing genes for common diseases, such as degenerative disc disease, Alzheimer's disease, nasopharyngeal carcinoma and others; identifying genetic modifiers for congenital heart disease using mouse models; use of cell and animal models to understand molecular mechanisms of diseases.

Contact Person(s)

Professor D. Chan
Tel: 3917 9482
Email: chand@hku.hk

Professor K.S.E. Cheah
Tel: 3917 9240
Email: kathycheah@hku.hk

Dr B. Gao
Tel: 3917 6809
Email: gaobo@hku.hk

Professor P. Liu
Tel: 2831 5407
Email: pliu88@hku.hk

Dr Y.Q. Song
Tel: 3917 9245
Email: songy@hku.hk

Dr A.S.L. Wong
Tel: 3917 9208
Email: aslw@hku.hk

Molecular biology of the extracellular matrix:
Regulation of chondrocyte differentiation and gene expression; identification of extracellular signals, transcription factors and their target genes important for kidney organogenesis, osteochondro progenitors and cartilage formation; genetic factors for the regulation of bone growth and healing; transgenic mouse models of inherited connective tissue disease in humans; regulation of matrix assembly in cartilage and bone.

Contact Person(s)

Professor D. Chan
Tel: 3917 9482
Email: chand@hku.hk

Professor K.S.E. Cheah
Tel: 3917 9240
Email: kathycheah@hku.hk

Professor Z.J. Zhou
Tel: 3917 9542
Email: zhongjun@hku.hk

Molecular developmental biology:
Genes involved in early embryonic development, tissue regeneration and skeletal development; analysis of regulation of Hox homeobox and Sox gene expression and function; inner ear, pancreatic β-cell, neural crest, kidney branching morphogenesis and heart development. Technology platforms include single cell technologies, mouse genetics and chick embryo injection.

Contact Person(s)

Professor K.S.E. Cheah
Tel: 3917 9240
Email: kathycheah@hku.hk

Dr M.C.H. Cheung
Tel: 3917 6867
Email: mcheung9@hku.hk

Professor P. Liu
Tel: 2831 5407
Email: pliu88@hku.hk

Dr R.K. Ng
Tel: 3917 9541
Email: raykitng@hku.hk

Professor M.H. Sham
Tel: 3917 9240
Email: mhsham@hku.hk

Dr K.M. Yao
Tel: 3917 9275
Email: kmyao@hku.hk

Molecular mechanisms of intracellular transportation and diseases:
Characterisation of the functions of intracellular transportation of proteins and organelles in neurons and other cells; studies of the relationship between intracellular transportation and diseases.

Contact Person(s)

Professor J.D. Huang
Tel: 3917 6810
Email: jdhuang@hku.hk

Dr K.O. Lai
Tel: 3917 9521
Email: laiko@hku.hk

Dr C.W. Lee
Tel: 3917 9202
Email: chiwai.lee@hku.hk

Molecular medicine:
The research focuses on the signalling pathways of inflammation, oxidative stress and apoptosis in the liver. These main events could lead to the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), fibrosis and cancer. Understanding these underlying events would allow us to develop therapeutic targets against critical signalling pathways that regulate the progression of NAFLD. Another aspect of the research focuses on the role of cyclooxygenase (COX) and inflammasomes in liver injury. The COX gene and inflammasomes play a critical role in the inflammatory diseases of the liver through its mediation in the production of prostaglandins and cytokines, respectively.

Contact Person(s)

Dr G.L. Tipoe
Tel: 3917 9185
Email: tgeorge@hku.hk

Molecular virology:
Coronaviruses; influenza A viruses; human oncogenic viruses including the Epstein-Barr virus and hepatitis B virus; molecular mechanisms of innate antiviral immunity; virus-cell interaction; antiviral aptamers; viral helicases; viral vectors; viral genome editing by CRISPR/Cas9; viral microRNAs.

Contact Person(s)

Dr C.P. Chan
Tel: 3917 6812
Email: chancp10@hku.hk

Professor J.D. Huang
Tel: 3917 6810
Email: jdhuang@hku.hk

Professor D.Y. Jin
Tel: 3917 9491
Email: dyjin@hku.hk

Dr J.A. Tanner
Tel: 3917 9472
Email: jatanner@hku.hk

Behavioural, cellular and molecular neuroscience:
Molecular control of the development and regeneration of the nervous system; nerve cell membrane functions; synapse development and plasticity; altered neuronal signalling in neurodevelopmental disorders; neuronal migration; neural coding of spatial navigation; role of proteoglycans in neuronal growth and regeneration; hearing and balance defects; neural regeneration after trauma; neuroprotection of dopamine neurons in Parkinson's disease; motor system in normal subjects and patients with motor disorder; pathogenesis of muscular dystrophy; deep brain stimulation in neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases.

Contact Person(s)

Dr C.S.W. Lai
Tel: 3917 9266
Email: coraswl@hku.hk

Dr K.O. Lai
Tel: 3917 9521
Email: laiko@hku.hk

Dr C.W. Lee
Tel: 3917 9202
Email: chiwai.lee@hku.hk

Dr L.W. Lim
Tel: 3917 6830
Email: limlw@hku.hk

Dr A.S.L. Wong
Tel: 3917 9208
Email: aslw@hku.hk

Neurodegeneration:
Investigation of molecular signalling pathways leading to apoptosis, autophagy, synaptic degeneration, and dysfunction of axonal transport in neurodegenerative disorders (including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, stroke, motor neuron disease, and multiple sclerosis); neuroinflammation and neuroimmunology; molecular and cellular mechanisms in the differentiation of endogenous neural stem cells, mechanisms of neurotrophic factors and cell adhesion molecules in promoting neuronal survival and axonal outgrowth, molecular mechanisms differentiation of stem cells in ageing and the elucidation of the factors that influence the survival of these neurons and dissection of cellular mechanisms by which these changes occur; stem cells in Parkinson's disease.

Contact Person(s)

Dr R.C.C. Chang
Tel: 3917 9127
Email: rccchang@hku.hk

Recombineering − mechanisms and applications:
Development of technologies for functional genomic studies and gene therapy; development of recombinase-based genome engineering tools; understanding of the mechanism underlying single strand oligonucleotide mediated homologous recombination.

Contact Person(s)

Professor J.D. Huang
Tel: 3917 6810
Email: jdhuang@hku.hk

Dr A.S.L. Wong
Tel: 3917 9208
Email: aslw@hku.hk

Stem cell biology:
Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells; patient-derived iPS cells for disease modelling and therapy; neural stem cells; neural crest cells; mesenchymal stem cells; stem cell self-renewal in cancer and ageing and epigenetic reprogramming in stem cells; derivation of new neurons and Schwann cells from bone marrow cells; genome editing on human iPS cells to study inherited neurological disorders.

Contact Person(s)

Professor D. Chan
Tel: 3917 9482
Email: chand@hku.hk

Professor K.S.E. Cheah
Tel: 3917 9240
Email: kathycheah@hku.hk

Dr B. Gao
Tel: 3917 6809
Email: gaobo@hku.hk

Dr R. Jauch
Tel: 3917 9511
Email: ralf@hku.hk

Dr A. Javed
Tel: 2831 5395
Email: javed@hku.hk

Dr K.O. Lai
Tel: 3917 9521
Email: laiko@hku.hk

Professor P. Liu
Tel: 2831 5407
Email: pliu88@hku.hk

Dr R.K. Ng
Tel: 3917 9541
Email: raykitng@hku.hk

Professor M.H. Sham
Tel: 3917 9240
Email: mhsham@hku.hk

Professor Z.J. Zhou
Tel: 3917 9542
Email: zhongjun@hku.hk

Structural biology:
Development of crystallographic methods; structural/functional studies of proteins by magnetic resonance spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography.

Contact Person(s)

Professor Q. Hao
Tel: 3917 9194
Email: qhao@hku.hk

Dr C.M. Qian
Tel: 3917 6820
Email: cmqian@hku.hk

Synthetic biology:
Design and fabrication of artificial biological circuits to control pattern formation and stem cell self-renewal/differentiation; development of high-throughput screening platforms, development of combinatorial genetics technologies for cell engineering; development of genome engineering technologies including CRISPR-based tools; protein engineering.

Contact Person(s)

Professor J.D. Huang
Tel: 3917 6810
Email: jdhuang@hku.hk

Dr A.S.L. Wong
Tel: 3917 9208
Email: aslw@hku.hk

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM):
Effect of various types of TCM on neuroprotection against neuroregeneration of central nervous system (CNS) neurons (including eye and spinal cord neurons); the role of TCM in the regulation of tumour inflammation and metabolism; mechanisms and anti-tumour effects of TCM, mechanisms of antioxidant properties of herbs on protection of the liver from carbon tetrachloride toxicity and chronic liver injury; studies of Chinese herbs that promote blood flow and/or enhance immune response in the treatment of glaucoma, stroke and spinal cord trauma.

Contact Person(s)

Dr R.C.C. Chang
Tel: 3917 9127
Email: rccchang@hku.hk

Dr A. Cheung
Tel: 3917 9293
Email: lmcheung@hku.hk

Dr G.L. Tipoe
Tel: 3917 9185
Email: tgeorge@hku.hk

Professor G.S.W. Tsao
Tel: 3917 9227
Email: gswtsao@hku.hk

Chairman of Departmental Research Postgraduate Committee

Dr Y.P. Ching
Tel: 3917 9434
Email: ypching@hku.hk