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

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

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University-led project obtained over HK$37 million ($4.7 million) in funding from the Strategic Topics Grant of Hong Kong’s Research Grants Council.


Based on a press statement, the project aims to combine AI and genomic and biomedical technologies to support the diagnosis and personalised therapy of major psychiatric disorders.

First, the research will identify genetic disease biomarkers and brain activity patterns to classify major psychiatric disorders into distinct categories. Then, it will study the longitudinal impact of stress on diseases and their inheritance to come up with an understanding of the disease mechanism. Later, outcomes from these two activities will be combined to guide the diagnosis and personalised 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 has major psychiatric disorders, including major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Less than four in 10 of them are only able to completely control their symptoms after the initial treatment.

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


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

Another is a deep-learning-based online test by Hong Kong-based Deep Longevity which can also generate a personalised programme for patients. 

Opsis Emotion AI in Singapore has developed an emotional analysis technology to diagnose the mental health conditions of senior people. 


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

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