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Embryo implantation and endometrial receptivity

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

About the Project

Infertility problem is getting more and more attention nowadays as most couples tends to have their baby later than before. Approximately 15% of couples have difficulty in conceiving and need fertility treatment. Since the introduction of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment in 1978, millions of couples conceived and delivered their baby. It is estimated that about 5% of deliveries came from IVF treatment worldwide. However, even though good quality embryos are transferred in IVF treatment, 75% of couples failed to conceive and/or get pregnant, and it is partly due to implantation failure or pregnancy loss. In fact, successful implantation depends on a synchronized endometrium development with developmentally competent embryo, as well as decidualized environment of the stromal cells. The microenvironment of the maternal reproductive tract changes by secreting various factors or macromolecules, and expressing adhesion/receptor molecules to provide the best microenvironment for embryo implantation. In humans, the embryo can only implant onto the endometrium within a limited time period corresponding to days 5 to 9 after the luteinizing hormone surge. This particular period is known as the ‘Window of Implantation’ (WOI) when the endometrium becomes receptive to an embryo. Accumulating evidence suggests various soluble ligands and their receptors, and steroid hormones mediate endometrial receptivity and embryo implantation. Till now, no single molecule or receptor has been identified to play an essential role on embryo implantation. We are interested in how different intrinsic and extrinsic factors regulate endometrial receptivity. Currently, the following projects will be offered (1) Effect of small molecules on embryo implantation, (2) Identification and characterization of endometrial surface molecules and miRNAs that modulate embryo implantation, and (3) Use of microbiome composition for pregnancy outcome prediction in IVF patients.


Dr Lee got his Ph D in Biochemistry from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and trained as postdoctoral training at Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA. He joined the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at The University of Hong Kong as Research Assistant Professor in 1998 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2008. He was Past-President of the Hong Kong Society for Reproductive Medicine, and Hong Kong Society of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Reproduction. He has published more than 90 original articles in international journals with H index 32 (total citation >3000). His students have obtained many international and local awards including “The Best Poster Award of Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR) – Southeast Asia Region”.

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Fan H, Jiang L, Lee YL, Wong CKC, Ng EHY, Yeung WSB, Lee KF. Bisphenol compounds regulate decidualized stromal cells in modulating trophoblastic spheroid outgrowth and invasion in vitro†. Biol Reprod. 2020 Mar 13;102(3):693-704. doi: 10.1093/biolre/ioz212.

Li HWR, Li YX, Li TT, Fan H, Ng EH, Yeung WS, Ho PC, Lee KF. Effect of ulipristal acetate and mifepristone at emergency contraception dose on the embryo-endometrial attachment using an in vitro human trophoblastic spheroid and endometrial cell co-culture model. Hum Reprod. 2017 Dec 1;32(12):2414-2422. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dex328.

Kottawatta KS, So KH, Kodithuwakku SP, Ng EH, Yeung WS, Lee KF. MicroRNA-212 Regulates the Expression of Olfactomedin 1 and C-Terminal Binding Protein 1 in Human Endometrial Epithelial Cells to Enhance Spheroid Attachment In Vitro. Biol Reprod. 2015;93(5):109. doi:10.1095/biolreprod.115.131334.

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