Dr CHU Wai Kit

Research Assistant Professor

BSc (CUHK), MPhil (CUHK), DPhil (Oxon)

Contact :

(852) 3943 5860

Academic Appointments

  • Research Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, CUHK
  • Director, CUHK Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences Laboratories
  • Associate Head, Graduate Division of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, CUHK
  • Honorary Associate Professor, Shantou University Medical College
  • Honorary Associate Professor, Eye School / Teaching Eye Hospital of Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine


The academic interests of Dr Chu focus in gene functions in various eye diseases as well as developing novel treatments for these diseases.  Dr Chu′s earlier work established molecular roles for helicases BLM and FBH1 in preserving genome stability.  Dr Chu′s work is supported by Research Grants Council (RGC) of Hong Kong, National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF) of Hong Kong.  Dr Chu has been awarded with the United College Early Career Excellence Award and the SH Ho Visiting Professorship in 2019 and 2020 respectively.  Dr Chu has been leading active international collaborative research programmes with scientists and clinicians from USA, Denmark, Germany, Japan, China, India, Singapore and Australia.

Dr Chu is currently a journal editor of Scientific Reports, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Frontiers in Ophthalmology and Hong Kong Journal of Ophthalmology.  He also serves as reviewers of multiple journals including Nature Communications, Progress in Retinal and Eye Research, British Journal of Ophthalmology and Experimental Eye Research.

Dr Chu has been organizing the Annual Congress of the Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO) since 2016.  Since then, he has served as the Secretary of the Visual Sciences Programme, Host Coordinator of the Visual Sciences Programme, Session Chair and Abstract Reviewer.

Research Areas

  1. Ocular inflammation: Ocular inflammation is one of the leading causes of vision damage.  Human uveitis is a group of conditions characterized by inflammatory lesions of intraocular structures.  Dr Chu is currently developing novel treatments for both infectious and autoimmune-related uveitis.  In addition, ocular inflammation could also lead to other irreversibly blinding diseases including thyroid associated orbitopathy, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.  Dr Chu′s work in ocular inflammation is supported by research grant >US$380,000 which has led to 18 published articles.
  2. Ocular cancer biology: Mutations in RB1 gene would lead to retinoblastoma, the most common paediatric intraocular cancer.  Retinoblastoma cells have lower levels of apoptotic cell death.  Dr Chu is exploring alternative pathways that could induce apoptosis to restrict the uncontrolled cell growth in retinoblastoma.  In addition, Dr Chu also studies the pathophysiology of pterygium, an abnormally growing tissue invading from the corneoscleral limbus onto the clear cornea.  In this research area, Dr Chu actively collaborates with Professor Andrew SCHALLY (Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine 1977) to study the Growth hormone-releasing hormone receptor – Growth Hormone – Insulin Growth Factor 1 (GH-GHRHR-IGF1) axis in ocular tumorigenesis.  This collaboration has published 2 research articles in PNAS.  Dr Chu′s work in ocular cancer biology is supported by research grant >US$90,000 which has led to 19 published articles and 3 book chapters.
Session Chair Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Annual Congress 2021, 2019, 2018
Host Coordinator / Secretary of the Visual Sciences Program Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Annual Congress 2018, 2016
International Advisory Asia-ARVO Annual Meeting 2017

Research Programmes

  1. Regulation of apoptosis in retinoblastoma
  2. Novel treatments for autoimmune-related uveitis
  3. Genetic basis of corneal opacity
  4. Pathophysiology of pterygium
  5. Disease mechanisms of thyroid-associated orbitopathy
  6. Autophagy and glaucoma
  7. Novel technology in ocular drug delivery

Results of Note

We recently identified inhibiting a growth hormone pathway can restrict the cell growth of retinoblastoma.  Severe forms of retinoblastoma usually involve eyeball removal.  Our recent findings open a door to alternative treatments for retinoblastoma, which could hopefully preserve the visions.

Our research team has recently developed an animal model to study autoimmune inflammation in eyes.  This model system shows similar disease outcome to human uveitis.  We are using this model system to screen potential reagents that could be developed into uveitis treatment.

There is a family with multiple members showing corneal opacity.  By studying the DNA mutations, we found that all the affected members share the same DNA mutation in a gene that is important to genome stability.  We aim to characterize the gene functions in order to understand the disease mechanism of corneal opacity.

Our study in pterygium identified the disease mechanism is related to protein mislocalization.  We further developed a novel treatment to specifically target the pterygium with minimal effects on other normal ocular surface tissues.  We aim to evaluate the clinical values of this novel treatment.

Representative Publications

  1. Du, L., Yip, Y. W. Y., Ng, H. K., Ho, B. M., He, J. N., Chan, S. O., Pang, C. P. and Chu, W. K. (2021) Ruxolitinib Alleviates Uveitis Caused by Salmonella typhimurium Microorganisms, 9, 1481.
  2. Jiang, Y., Yam, J. C., Tham, C. C., Pang, C. P. and Chu, W. K. (2020) RB Regulates DNA Double Strand Break Repair Pathway Choice by Mediating CtIP Dependent End Resection. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21, 7807.
  3. He, J. N., Zhang, S. D., Qu, Y., Wang, H. L., Tham, C. C., Pang, C. P. and Chu, W. K. (2019) Rapamycin removes damaged mitochondria and protects human trabecular meshwork (TM-1) cells from chronic oxidative stress. Molecular Neurobiology, 56, 6586.
  4. Cao, D., Ng, T. K., Yip, Y. W. Y., Young, A. L., Pang, C. P., Chu W. K. and Jhanji, V. (2018) p53 inhibition by MDM2 in human pterygium. Experimental Eye Research, 175, 142.
  5. Zhang, B. N., Venegas, A. B., Hickson, I. D. and Chu, W. K. (2018) DNA replication stress and its impact on chromosome segregation and tumorigenesis. Seminars in Cancer Biology.
  6. Wong, J. S. C., Chu, W. K., Li, B. F., Pang, C. P. and Chong, K. K. L. (2018) Depot-specific characteristics of adipose tissue-derived stromal cells in thyroid-associated orbitopathy. British Journal of Ophthalmology.
  7. Li, J., Ren, J., Yip, Y. W. Y., Zhang, X., Chu, K. O., Ng, T. K., Chan, S. O., Pang, C. P. and Chu, K. (2017) Quantitative Characterization of Autoimmune Uveoretinitis in an Experimental Mouse Model. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 58, 4193.
  8. Chu, K., Law, K. S., Chan, S. O., Yam, J. C. S., Chen, L. J., Zhang, H., Cheung, H. S., Block, N. L., Schally, A. V. and Pang, C. P. (2016) Antagonists of growth hormone-releasing hormone receptor induce apoptosis specifically in retinoblastoma cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113, 14396.
  9. Chu, W. K., Payne, M.J., Beli, P., Hanada, K., Choudhary, C. and Hickson, I.D. (2015) FBH1 influences replication-associated homologous recombination through ubiquitylation of RAD51. Nature Communications, 6, 5931.
  10. Chu, K. and Hickson, I.D. (2009) RecQ helicases: multifunctional genome caretakers. Nature Reviews Cancer, 9, 644-654.

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