Research Areas

Department of Psychiatry

How can modern technology be applied in psychiatric research?

How can we better treat mental illness?

Major Research Areas

Behavioural genetics / statistical genetics / bioinformatics:
Development of statistical, computational and bioinformatic methods and tools for genetic studies of human diseases; application of modern genetic and genomic technologies and statistical methods to unravel the genetic basis of mental disorders and behavioural traits; collaborations with colleagues from other departments to study the genetics of other complex and mono-genetic disorders.

Contact Person

Professor P.C. Sham
Email: pcsham@hku.hk

Cognitive psychopathology:
Elucidation of abnormal psychological processes with cognitive science and neuropsychology methods - evolution of psychotic symptoms, illness awareness, executive function, attention impairments, motor system dysfunction, semantic memory impairments, social cognition, reward learning, eye gazing, characterisation of neurocognitive impairments in various psychiatric conditions; development of new assessment paradigms; use of neurocognitive markers in prognostic and intervention prediction; prospect of cognitive remediation; neurocomputational modelling: use of information technology and computer models in the study of thought processes and their disturbances. Brain imaging technology (MRI and fMRI) are required to study the various neurocognitive processes.

Social cognitive neuroscience of mental symptoms:
Detailed studies of individual psychopathology, such as reference idea, hallucination, insight from both phenomenology and cognitive neuroscience perspectives. Focus will also be put on the biological underpinning of each of the psychopathological phenomena with the use of various technologies, including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

Psychosocial basis of mental symptoms:
Detailed studies of how environmental, psychosocial, and familial factors could influence the onset of psychosis, as well as the pathway to care, individual and family reaction to psychosis and intervention response. Relevant data and perspectives would help inform the next generation of interventional approaches.

Risk factors of psychotic disorders:
Examine the risk factors contributing to psychosis; particularly differences of risk factors in early-onset and later-onset psychosis; environmental factors, such as stress and coping difficulties associated with migration will be investigated; the investigation of biological factors would involve the use of various technologies including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and Positron Emission Tomography-computed tomography (PET-MR). Relevant data and perspectives would help inform more individualized interventions strategies for patients and the use of treatments in a more effective way.

Course and outcomes of psychotic disorders:
Characteristics of longitudinal progression and outcomes of psychotic disorder; predictors of transition from prodromal state to first episode psychosis, treatment response, relapse, recovery and treatment resistance ; subjective aspects of psychosis integration of illness experience including recovery, quality of life, care-givers' experience and stigmatization; suicide prevention; side effects of psychopharmacological intervention; study of the interaction effect of environmental stress and genetics on the course of illness.

Psychological intervention for psychotic disorders:
Develop and evaluate specific intervention modalities targeting on different aspects of the needs of patients - improving functional outcome, symptom management, cognitive functioning, medication of side effects management, and reducing conversion from prodromal state. Potential interventions include phase-specific case management in early intervention of psychosis, life coaching, specific cognitive behavioural therapy, psychoeducational group therapy, Omega-3 treatment, mindfulness training, and cognitive remediation and physical exercises.

Early intervention for psychosis:
Impact of early detection and early intervention for psychosis; identification of risk syndromes in Hong Kong; epidemiology of psychotic like symptoms; prediction of conversion to psychosis; intervention at prodromal level; case work for early psychosis; health economics of early intervention systems; public awareness and information campaigns in early psychosis.

Contact Persons

Professor E.Y.H. Chen
Email: eyhchen@hku.hk

Dr K.W. Chan
Email: kwsherry@hku.hk

Dr W.C. Chang
Email: changwc@hku.hk

Dr E.H.M. Lee
Email: edwinlhm@hku.hk

Dr C.L.M. Hui
Email: christy@lmhui.com

Sleep and mood disorders:
Epidemiology, clinical presentation, etiology, and treatment of major sleep and mood disorders.

Contact Person

Dr K.F. Chung
Email: kfchung@hku.hk

Departmental Postgraduate Admission Advisor

Dr K.F. Chung
Email: kfchung@hku.hk