Kwok-Fai So(蘇國輝)
Jessie Ho Professor in Neuroscience
The State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Office: Room 4-10, Interdisciplinary Bldg, 5 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2831-5366
Fax: (852) 2817-3769
HKU Scholars Hub


Currently Chair Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, and Jessie Ho Professor in Neuroscience, at The University of Hong Kong, Director of GHM Institute of CNS Regeneration at Jinan University, Guangzhou, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, member of the Advisory Committee/ 2011 Program, member of Consultative Committee/ the national 973 Program ( , Co-Chairman of the Board of Director of the China Spinal Cord Injury Network     (,), Honorary Director of the State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at HKU (, and Editor-in-Chief of Neural Regeneration Research ( He received his Ph.D. degree from MIT. He is one of the pioneers in the field of axonal regeneration in visual system. He was the first to show lengthy regeneration of retinal ganglion cells in adult mammals with peripheral nerve graft. He is currently using multiple approaches to promote axonal regeneration in the optic nerve and spinal cord. His team identifies neuroprotective and regenerative factors including: peptide nanofiber scaffold, trophic factors, exercise, herbal extracts, other small molecules, immune responses and environmental manipulation. He is the author and co-author of over 300+ publications.

Selected Publications

Chen K, Zheng Y, Wei J-a, Ouyang H, Huang X, Zhang F, Lai CSW, Ren C, So KF, and Zhang L. Exercise training improves motor skill learning via selective activation of mTOR. Science Adv. 2019 Jul 3; 5(7):eaaw1888. Doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw1888.  
Huang L, Xi Y, Peng Y, Yang Y, Huang X, Fu Y, Tao Q, Xiao J, Yuan T, An K, Zhao H, Pu M, Xu F, Xue T, Luo M, So KF, and Ren C. A visual circuit related to habenula underlies the antidepressive effects of light therapy. Neuron. 2019 Apr 3; 102(1):128-142.e8. 
Huang L, Yuan T, Tan M, Xi Y, Hu Y, Tao Q, Zhao Z, Zheng J, Han Y, Xu F, Luo M, Sollars P, Pu M, Pickard G, So KF, and Ren C. A retinoraphe projection regulates serotonergic activity and looming-evoked defensive behavior. Nature Comm., 2017 Mar 31, 8:14908
Shi L, Guo Y, Dong C, Huddleston J, Yang H, Han X, Fu A, Li Q, Li N, Gong S, Lintner KE, Ding Q, Wang Z, Hu J, Wang D, Wang F, Wang L, Lyon GJ, Guan Y, Shen Y, Evgrafov OV, Knowles JA, Thibaud-Nissen F, Schneider V, Yu CY, Zhou L, Eichler EE, So KF, Wang K. Long-read sequencing and de novo assembly of a Chinese genome., Nat Commun. 2016 Jun 30;7:12065. doi: 10.1038/ncomms12065
Zhang T, Huang L, Zhang L, Tan M, Pu M, Pickard GE, So KF, Ren C. ON and OFF retinal ganglion cells differentially regulate serotonergic and GABAergic activity in the dorsal raphe nucleus. Sci Rep. 2016 May 16; 6:26060. doi: 10.1038/srep26060.
Leung JW, Lau BW, Chan VS, Lau CS, So KF. Abnormal increase of neuronal precursor cells and exacerbated neuroinflammation in the corpus callosum in murine model of systemic lupus erythematosus. Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2016 May 2.
Yuan TF, Liang YX, Peng B, Lin B, So KF. Local proliferation is the main source of rod microglia after optic nerve transection. Scientific Reports. 2015; 5, 10788.
Yau SY, Li A, So KF. Involvement of Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis in Learning and Forgetting. Neural Plast. 2015; 2015:717958.
Yuan TF, Liang YX and So KF. Occurrence of new neurons in the piriform cortex. Front. Neuroanat. 2015; 8: 167.
Yuan T-F, Liang Y-X and So K-F. Response: New neurons from old beliefs in the adult piriform cortex? A Commentary on: “Occurrence of new neurons in the piriform cortex.” Front. Neuroanat. 2015 Jun 9; 9:79.
Liang YX, Yang J, Yuan TF, So KF. Uptake of Retrograde Tracers by Intact Optic Nerve Axons: A New Way to Label Retinal Ganglion Cells. PLoS One. 2015 Jun 11; 10(6):e0128718.
Li HY, Ruan YW, Kau PW, Chiu K, Chang RC, Chan HH, So KF. Effect of Lycium barbarum (Wolfberry) on alleviating axonal degeneration after partial optic nerve transection. Cell Transplant. 2015; 24(3):403-17.
Yuan TF, Liang YX, Tay D, So KF, Ellis-Behnke R. Specialized vasculature in the rostral migratory stream as a neurogenic niche and scaffold for neuroblast migration. Cell Transplant. 2015; 24(3):377-90.
Yau SY, Li A, Xu A, So KF. Fat cell-secreted adiponectin mediates physical exercise-induced hippocampal neurogenesis: an alternative anti-depressive treatment? Neural Regen Res. 2015 Jan; 10(1):7-9.
Yau SY, Li A, Hoo RL, Ching YP, Christie BR, Lee TM, Xu A, So KF. Physical exercise-induced hippocampal neurogenesis and antidepressant effects are mediated by the adipocyte hormone adiponectin. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Oct 20. pii: 201415219. (pdf)
Ruan L, Lau BW, Wang J, Huang L, Zhuge Q, Wang B, Jin K, So KF. Neurogenesis in neurological and psychiatric diseases and brain injury: From bench to bedside. Prog Neurobiol, 2014 Apr; 115:116-37. (pdf)
Lee TMC, Wong ML, Lau BW, Lee JC, Yau SY, So KF. Aerobic exercise interacts with neurotrophic factors to predict cognitive functioning in adolescents. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2014 Jan; 39:214-24. (pdf)
Yau SY, Li A, Zhang ED, Christie BR, Xu A, Lee TMC, So KF. Sustained running in rats administered corticosterone prevents the development of depressive behaviors and enhances hippocampal neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity without increasing neurotrophic factor levels. Cell Transplant. 2014; 23(4-5):481-92. (pdf)
Li H, Liang Y, Chiu K, Yuan Q, Lin B, Chang RC, So KF. (2013). Lycium Barbarum (Wolfberry) Reduces Secondary Degeneration and Oxidative Stress, and Inhibits JNK Pathway in Retina after Partial Optic Nerve Transection. PLoS One. 19;8(7):e68881.(pdf)
Ren C, Luan L, Wui-Man Lau B, Huang X, Yang J, Zhou Y, Wu X, Gao J, Pickard GE, So KF, Pu M. (2013). Direct Retino-Raphe Projection Alters Serotonergic Tone and Affective Behavior. Neuropsychopharmacology, 1163–1175. (pdf)
Zhang E, Yau SY, Lau BWM, Ma H, Lee TMC, Chang RCC, So KF. (2012). Synaptic plasticity, but not hippocampal neurogenesis mediated the counteractive effect of Wolfberry on depression in rats. Cell Transplant, 21(12): 2635-49.(pdf)
Lau BW, Lee JC, Li Y, Fung SM, Sang YH, Shen J, Chang RC, So KF. (2012). Polysaccharides from wolfberry prevents corticosterone-induced inhibition of sexual behavior and increases neurogenesis. PLoS One. 7(4):e33374. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033374. (pdf)
Mi XS, Zhang X, Feng Q, Lo AC, Chung SK, So KF. (2012). Progressive retinal degeneration in transgenic mice with overexpression of endothelin-1 in vascular endothelial cells. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 20;53(8):4842-51.(pdf)
Mi XS, Feng Q, Lo AC, Chang RC, Lin B, Chung SK, So KF. (2012). Protection of retinal ganglion cells and retinal vasculature by Lycium barbarum polysaccharides in a mouse model of acute ocular hypertension. PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e45469. doi: 10.1371. (pdf)
Yau SY, Lau BW, Zhang ED, Lee JC, Li A, Lee TM, Ching YP, Xu AM, So KF. (2012). Effects of voluntary running on plasma levels of neurotrophins, hippocampal cell proliferation and learning and memory in stressed rats. Neuroscience. 222:289-301.(pdf)
Lau, B.W.M., Ren, C., Yang, J., Yan, S.W.L., Chang, R. C.C., Pu, M., and So, K.F. (2011). Light deprivation induces depression-like behavior and suppresses neurogenesis in diurnal Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus). Cell Transplantation. 20(6):871-81. (pdf)
Lau, B.W.M., Yau, S.Y., Lee, T.M.C., Ching, Y.P. Tang, S.W., So, K.F. (2011). Effect of corticosterone and paroxetine on masculine mating behavior: possible involvement of neurogenesis. J Sex Med. 8(5):1390-403. (pdf)
Chan, K C., So, K.F., and Wu, EX. (2009). Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy revealed choline reduction in the visual cortex in an experimental model of chronic glaucoma. Experimental Eye Research, 88:65–70. (pdf)
Ellis-Behnke, R.G., Liang, Y.X., Guo, J., Tay, D.K.C., Schneider, G.E., Teather, L.A., Wu, W., and So, K.F. (2009). Forever young: How to control the elongation, differentiation, and proliferation of cells using nanotechnology. Cell Transplantation, (18): 1047-1058. (pdf)
Fu, Q.L., Li, X., Yip, H.K., Shao, Z., Wu, W., Mi, S., & So, K.F. (2009). Combined effect of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and LINGO-1 fusion protein on long-term survival of retinal ganglion cells in chronic Glaucoma. Neuroscience, 162:375-382. (pdf)
Luo, X.G., Chiu, K., Lau, F.H., Lee, V.W., Yung, K.K., and So, K.F. (2009).The selective vulnerability of retinal ganglion cells in rat chronic ocular hypertension model at early phase. Cell Mol Neurobiol, 29(8):1143-1151. (pdf)
Lau, B.W.M., Yau, S.Y., Lee, T.M.C., Ching, Y.P., Tang, S.W. & So, K.F. (2009). Intracerebroventricular infusion of cytosine-arabinoside causes prepulse inhibition disruption. Neuroreport, 20(4):371-7. (pdf)
Chiu, K., Chan, H.C., Yeung, S.C., Yuen, W. H., Zee, S.Y., Chang, R.C.C., & So, K.F. (2009). Modulation of microglia by Wolfberry on the survival of retinal ganglion cells in a rat ocular hypertension model. J. Ocular Biol. Dis. Informatics, 2, 47-56. (pdf)
Fu, Q.L., Hu, B., Wu, W., Pepinsky, R.B., Mi, S., and So, K.F. (2008). Blocking LINGO-1 function promotes retinal ganglion cell survival following ocular hypertension and optic nerve transaction. IOVS, 49: 975-985. (pdf)
Cheung, Z.H., Leung, M.C.P., Yip, H.K., Wu, W., Siu, F.K.W., and So, K.F. (2008). A neuroprotective herbal mixture inhibits caspase-3-independent apoptosis in retinal ganglion cells. Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, 28: 137-155. (pdf)
Fu, Q.L., Wu, W., Wang, H., Li, X., Lee, V.W., and So K.-F. (2008). Up-regulated Endogenous Erythropoietin/Erythropoietin Receptor System and Exoenous Erythropoietin Rescue Retinal Ganglion Cells after Chronic Ocular Hypertension. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 28:317-329. (pdf)
Li, S.Y., Yau, S.Y., Chen, B.Y., Tay, D.K., Lee, V.W.H., Pu, M.L., Chan, H.H.L., and So, K.F.(2008). Enhanced survival of melanopsin-expressing retinal ganglion cells after injury is associated with the PI3 K/Akt pathway. Cell Mol. Neurobiol., 28 (8): 1095- 1107. (pdf)
Mi, S., Hu B, Hahm, K., Luo, Y., Kam Hui, E.S., Yuan, Q., Wong, W.M., Wang, L., Su, H., Chu, T.H., Guo, J., Zhang, W., So, K.F., Pepinsky, B., Shao, Z., Graff, C., Garber, E., Jung, V., Wu, E.X., Wu, W. (2007). LINGO-1 antagonist promotes spinal cord remyelination and axonal integrity in MOG-induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Nature Medicine, Oct; 13(10):1228-33. (pdf)
Schneider, G.E., Ellis-Behnke, R.G., Liang, Y.X., Kau, P.W.F., Tay, D.K.C., & So, K.F. (2006). Behavioral testing and preliminary analysis of the hamster visual system. Nature Protocols, 1, 1898-1905. (pdf)
Ellis-Behnke, R.G., Liang, Y.X., You, S.W., Tay, D.K.C., Zhang, S., So, K.F., Schneider, G.E. (2006). Nano neuro knitting: peptide nanofiber scaffold for brain repair and axon regeneration with functional return of vision, Proc Natl Acad Ssci USA, 103 (13): 5054-5059. (pdf) (media coverage)
So, K.F., Ho, L.S.H., Tay, D.K.C., and Lee, T.M.C. (2006). Light delays synaptic deafferentation and potentiates the survival of axotomized retinal ganglion cells.Neuroscience Letters, 395: 255-260. (pdf)
Chan, H.H., Leung, M. C., and So, K.F. (2005). Electroacupuncture provides a new approach to neuroprotection in rats with induced-glaucoma. J Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 11(2): 315-322. (pdf)
He, M.H., Cheung, Z.H., Yu, E.H., Tay, D.K.C., and So, K.F. (2004). Cytochrome c release and caspase-3 activation in retinal ganglion cells following different distance of axotomy of the optic nerve in adult hamsters. Neurochemical Research, 29 (11): 2153-2161.
Mok, K.H., Lee, V.W., and So, K.F. (2004). Retinal nerve fiber loss in high- and normal-tension glaucoma by optical coherence tomography. Optom Vis Sci., 81(5): 369-372.
Mok, K.H., Lee, V.W., and So, K.F. (2004). Increasing scans per examination improves the reproducibility on retinal nerve fiber layer measurements by optical coherence tomography. Optometry and Vision Science, 81 (4): 267-270.
Cheung, Z.H., Chan, Y.M., Siu, F.K.W., Yip, H.K., Wu, W., Leung, M.C.P. and So, K.F. (2004). Regulation of caspase activation in axotomized retinal ganglion cells. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, 25: 383-393. (pdf)
Ji, J.Z., Elyaman, W., Yip, H.K., Lee, V.W.H., Yick, L.-W., Hugon, J., and So, K.F. (2004). CNTF promotes survival of retinal ganglion cells after induction of ocular hypertension in rats: the possible involvement of STAT3 Pathway. Eur. Journal of Neuroscience, 19(2): 265-272.
Lu, Q., Cui, Q., Yip, H.K. and So, K.F. (2003). C-jun Expression in surviving and regenerating retinal ganglion cells: effects of intravitreal neurotrophic supply.Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 44: 5342-5348.
You, S.W., Tay, D., Yip, H.K., and So, K.F. (2003). Effects of MK-801 and L-NA on the survival and regeneration of axotomized retinal ganglion cells in adult hamsters. ACTA Anatomica Sinica, 34:453-457.
Mok, K.H., Lee, V.W., and So, K.F. (2003). Retinal nerve fiber loss pattern in high-tension glaucoma by optical coherence tomography. J. of Glaucoma, 12: 255-259.
Cheung, Z.H., Yip, H.K., Wu, W., and So, K.-F. (2003). Axotomy induces cytochrome c release in retinal ganglion cells. NeuroReport, 14: 29-282.
Mok, K.H., Lee, V.W., and So, K.F., (2003). Retinal nerve fiber layer measurement by optical coherence tomography in glaucoma suspects with short-wavelength perimetry abnormalities. J. of Glaucoma, 12: 45-49.
You, S.W., Bedi, K.S., Yip, H.K., and So, K.F. (2002). Axonal regeneration of retinal ganglion cells after optic nerve pre-lesions and attachment of normal or pre-degenerated peripheral nerve grafts. Visual Neuroscience, 19: 661 - 668.
Mok, K.H., Lee, W.H. and So, K.F. (2002). Retinal nerve fiber layer measurement of the Hong Kong Chinese population by optical coherence tomography.Journal of Glaucoma, 11: 481-483.
Siu, A.W., Leung, M.C.P., To, C.H., Siu, F.K.W., Ji, J.Z., and So, K.F. (2002). Total retinal nitric oxide production is increased in intraocular pressure-elevated rats.Experimental Eye Research, 75: 401-406.
Leung, M.C.P., Lo, S.C.L., Siu, F.K.W., and So, K.F., (2002). Treatment of experimentally induced transient cerebral ischemia with low energy laser inhibits nitric oxide synthase activity and up-regulates the expression of transforming growth factor-beta 1. Laser in Surgery and Medicine, 31: 283-288.
Chan, Y.M., Wu, W., Yip, H.K., and So, K.F. (2002). Development of the regenerative capacity of postnatal axotomized rat spinal motorneurons. NeuroReport, 13: 1071-1074.
Tay, D., Diao, Y.C., Xiao, Y.M., and So, K.F., (2002). Postnatal development of NADPH-diaphorase positive neurons in the retina of the golden hamster. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 446: 342-348.
Cho, K.S., Chung, S.K., Yip, H.K., and So, K.F. (2001). Differential effects of intravitreal optic nerve and sciatic nerve grafts on the survival of retinal ganglion cells and the regeneration of their axons. Journal of Neurocytology, 30(12): 983-991.
You, S.W., So, K.F., and Yip, H.K., (2001). Effect of distance of axotomy on axonal regeneration of retinal ganglion cells into a normal or pre-degenerated peripheral nerve graft in adult hamsters. Acta Anatomica Sinica, 32: 26-29.
You, S.W., So, K.F., and Yip, H.K., (2000). Axonal regeneration of retinal ganglion cells depending on the distance of axotomy in adult hamsters. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 41: 3165-3170.
You, S.W., So, K.F., Yip, H.K., and Ju, G. (2000). Effect of a pre-degenerated peripheral nerve graft on axonal regeneration of retinal ganglion cells in adult hamsters. The Journal of Fourth Military Medical University, 21: S228-229.
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