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Cracking down bacterial infection in bone by new photo-responsive nanoparticles

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

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 fulfill 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.


Kelvin Yeung has been passionate about applied orthopaedic biomaterial research and translation for more than 20 years. His major research areas are the development of orthopedic 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 orthopedic scientist in HKU Medical Faculty for his master’s degree and his Ph.D.

He is currently tenured associate professor in the Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, The University of Hong Kong. His h-index is 41 (Scopus) with more than 5,800 citations. He has been ranked in the World’s Top 1% of Scientists in the field of biomaterials by Clarivate Analytics’ Essential Science Indicators (ESI) from 2014 to 2018. In addition to publishing 217 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 this 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. For projects in which he has acted in the capacity of principal investigator or co-principal investigator, he has received over HK$57,170,000. Since 2006, he has supervised 14 Ph.D. and 8 M.Phil. students. Furthermore, he has received 19 prizes and awards from local and international competitions and conferences. He has also been invited to deliver 74 plenary lectures, keynotes or invited talks at international and regional conferences.

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