June 17, 2024

Hong Kong project bags $5M to harness AI, genomics for mental health diagnosis, treatment

A new health technology project in Hong Kong has received significant public funding to introduce an AI data-driven approach to mental health diagnosis and treatment.

The project led by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University received over HK$37 million ($4.7 million) in Strategic Topics Grant funding from the Hong Kong Research Grants Council.


Based on a press release, the project aims to combine AI with genomics and biomedical technologies to support the diagnosis and personalized therapy of major psychiatric disorders.

Firstly, the research will identify genetic disease biomarkers and brain activity patterns to classify major psychiatric disorders into distinct categories. Then, he will study the longitudinal impact of stress on diseases and their inheritance to come up with an understanding of the mechanism of the disease. Later, results from these two activities will be combined to guide the diagnosis and personalized therapy of mental health disorders.

The project will involve 20 investigators and collaborators from eight institutions in Hong Kong, mainland China and the United States.


About 13% of the Hong Kong population have major psychiatric disorders, including major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Fewer than four in 10 are unable to fully control their symptoms after initial treatment.

To improve the diagnosis, study and personalized treatment of mental health disorders, researchers from PolyU are coming up with an integrated solution that moves from a symptom-based approach to an AI-based, data-driven approach.


Asia Pacific has seen various use cases of AI in mental health care diagnosis in recent years. One of them is a deep learning model for predicting the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, recently introduced by a multinational research team led by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Another is a Hong Kong-based deep learning-based online test Deep longevity who can also generate a personalized program for patients.

Opsis Emotion AI in Singapore developed emotional analysis technology to diagnose mental health conditions in seniors.


“This is a multidisciplinary project that responds to the urgent need for new technologies to improve mental health care in Hong Kong and beyond. The research team combines expertise from different fields such as computer science, biology and medicine to address some fundamental challenges in studies of complex diseases,” said project leader Weixiong Zhang, who is chair professor of Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics at PolyU.

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