School of Biomedical Sciences
The Chinese University of Hong Kong 香港中文大學

Hannah HUIAssistant Professor

B.Sc., Ph.D.

Telephone:  3943 5101

Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Address: Room 204A, Lo Kwee-Seong Integrated Biomedical Sciences Building, Area 39, CUHK







Prof. Hannah Xiaoyan HUI (惠曉艷) obtained her B.Sc. (First Class Honours) in Biotechnology from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and completed her Ph.D. study in Shanghai Institute of Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences (SIBS, CAS). She then pursued her postdoctoral training at Department of Medicine, the University of Hong Kong and was later took up her post as Research Assistant Professor at the same department. In 2021, she joined the School of Biomedical Sciences, the Chinese University of Hong Kong as Assistant Professor.

The research interest of Dr. Hui lies solely on Adipose Tissue - a highly plastic organ in our body. We are using genetically engineered mouse models, primary cells/tissues and human iPS-derived adipocytes as model systems. By adopting state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary approaches, the goal of our laboratory is to understand the molecular basis of adipose tissue remodelling and its physiological relevance in obesity and cardio-metabolic diseases. Ultimately we seek to develop biomedicine that can “re-educate” the adipose tissue.

Prof. Hui is the principal investigator of research grants including General Research fund (GRF), Health and Medical Research Fund (HMRF) and NSFC (Young Excellent Scientist). Her research work has been published in top-ranked journals including Cell Metab, J Clin Invest, EMBO rep, Diabetes, Brit J Pharmacol. She also receives awards such as National Science and Technology Progress Award (2020).

  1. Thermogenic adipocytes.
  2. Chronic inflammation in obese adipose tissue.
  3. Development of biomedicine to reprogram “unhealthy” adipose tissue to a “healthy” one.
  1. Sun, W., Nie, T., Li, K., Wu, W., Long, Q., Feng, T., Mao, L, Gao, Y., Liu. Q., Gao, X., Ye, D., Yan, K., Gu, P., Xu, Y., Zhao, X., Chen, K., Loomes, K.M., Lin, S., Wu, D. & Hui, X.* (2022). Hepatic CPT1A facilitates liver-adipose cross-talk via induction of FGF21 in mice. Diabetes, 71(1):31.
  2. Gu, P., Hui, X.*, Zheng, Q., Gao, Y., Jun, L., Jiang, W., Zhou C., Liu, T., Huang, Y., Liu, Q., Nie, T., Wang, Y., Wang, Y., Zhao, J. & Xu, A. (2021). Mitochondrial Uncoupling Protein-1 Antagonizes Atherosclerosis by Blocking NLRP3-Inflammasome-dependent Interleukin-1b production. Sci Adv., 7(50), eabl4024.
  3. Pan, Y., Hui, X., Hoo, R.L.C., Ye, D., Chan, C.Y.C., Feng, T., Wang, Y., Lam, K.S.L. & Xu, A. (2019). Adipocyte-secreted exosomal microRNA-34a inhibits M2 macrophage polarization to promote obesity-induced adipose inflammation. J Clin Invest., 29(2):834.
  4. Zhao, S., Chu, Y., Zhang, Y., Zhou, Y., Jiang, Z., Wang, Z., Mao, L., Li, K., Sun, W., Li, P., Jia, S., Wang, C., Xu, A., Loomes, K., Tang, S., Wu, D., Hui, X.* & Nie, T. (2019). Linifanib exerts dual anti-obesity effect by regulating adipocyte browning and formation. Life Sci., 222: 117.
  5. Sun, W., Zhao, X., Wang, Z., Chu, Y., Mao, L., Lin, S., Gao, X., Song, Y., Hui, X., Jia, S., Tang, S., Xu, Y., Xu, A., Loomes, K., Wang, C., Wu, D. & Nie T. (2019). Tbx15 is required for adipocyte browning induced by adrenergic signaling pathway. Molecular Metabolism, 28: 48.
  6. Li, H., Wu, G., Fang, Q., Zhang, M., Hui, X., Sheng, B., Wu, L., Bao, Y., Li, P., Xu, A., & Jia, P. (2018). Fibroblast growth factor 21 increases insulin sensitivity through specific expansion of subcutaneous fat. Nat commun, 9 (1), 272.
  7. Hui, X.*, Zhang, M., Gu, P., Li, K., Gao, Y., Wu, D., Wang, Y. & Xu, A. (2017). Adipocyte SIRT1 controls systemic insulin sensitivity by modulating macrophages in adipose tissue. EMBO Rep., 18(4):645.
  8. Nie, B., Nie, T., Hui, X.*, Gu, P., Mao, L., Li, K., Xu, A., Wu, D. & Ding, S. (2017). Brown adipogenic reprogramming induced by a small molecule. Cell Rep., 18 (1): 624.
  9. Mao, L., Nie, B., Nie, T., Hui, X., Gao, X., Lin, X., Liu, X., Xu, Y., Tang, X., Yuan, R., Li, K., Li, P., Ding, K., Wang, Y., Xu, A., Fei, J., Han, W., Liu, P. Madsen, L., Kristiansen, K., Zhou, Z., Ding, S. & Wu, D. (2017). Visualization and quantification of “Browning” using a Ucp1-2A-luciferase knockin mouse model. Diabetes, 66:407.
  10. Nie, T., Hui, X.*, Mao, L., Nie, B., Li, K., Sun, W., Gao, X. & Wu, D. (2016). Harmine induces adipocyte thermogenesis through RAC1-MEK-ERK-CHD4 axis. Sci Rep., 6 (3): 36382.
  11. Hui, X.*, Feng, T., Liu, Q., Gao, Y. & Xu, A. (2016). The FGF21–adiponectin axis in controlling energy and vascular homeostasis. J Mol Cell Biol., 8 (2): 110.
  12. Hui, X.*, Gu, P., Zhang, J., Nie, T., Pan, Y., Wu, D., Feng, T., Zhong, C., Wang, Y., Lam, K.S. & Xu, A. (2015). Adiponectin Enhances Cold-Induced Browning of Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue via Promoting M2 Macrophage Proliferation. Cell Metab., 22(2): 279.
  13. Hui, X.*, Gu, P., Cheng, M., Lu, B., Jiang, W. & Shi, Z. (2015). Elevating circulation chemerin level is associated with endothelial dysfunction and early atherosclerotic changes in essential hypertensive patients. J Hypertens., 33(8):1624.
  14. Nie, T., Hui, X., Gao, X., Nie, B., Mao, L., Tang, X., Yuan, R., Li, K., Li, P., Xu, A., Liu, P., Ding, S., Han, W., Cooper, G.J. & Wu, D. (2015). Conversion of non-adipogenic fibroblasts into adipocytes by a defined hormone mixture. Biochem J., 467(3):487.
  15. Hoo, R.L.C., Lee, I.P.C., Zhou, M., Wong, J.Y.L., Hui, X., Xu, A. & Lam, K.S.L. (2013). Pharmacological inhibition of adipocyte fatty acid binding protein alleviates both acute liver injury and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis in mice. J Hepatology, 58 (2), 358.
  16. Nie, T., Hui, X., Gao, X., Li, K., Lin, W., Xiang, X., Ding, M., Kuang, Y., Xu, A., Fei, J., Wang, Z. & Wu, D. (2012). Adipose tissue deletion of Gpr116 impairs insulin sensitivity through modulation of adipose function. FEBS Lett., 586(20):3618.
  17. Hui, X.*, Lam, K.S., Vanhoutte, P.M. & Xu, A. (2011). The cardiovascular effects of adiponectin: an update. Brit J Pharmacol., 165(3): 574.
  18. Gao, X., Li, K, Hui, X., Kong, X., Sweeney, G., Wang, Y., Xu, A., Teng, M., Liu, P. & Wu, D. (2011). Carnitine palmitoyltransferase1 prevents free fatty acid induced adipocyte dysfunction through c-Jun N-terminal kinase. Biochem J., 435(3):723.
  19. Hui, X.*, Li, H., Zhou, Z., Lam, K.S., Xiao, Y., Wu, D., Ding, K., Wang, Y., Vanhoutte, P.M. & Xu, A. (2010). Adipocyte fatty acid-binding protein modulates inflammatory responses in macrophages through a positive feedback loop involving c-Jun NH2-terminal kinases and activator protein-1. J Biol Chem., 285(14):10273.
  20. Hui, X.*, Zhu, W., Wang, Y., Lam, K.S., Zhang, J., Wu, D., Kraegen, E.W., Li, Y. & Xu, A. (2009). Major urinary protein-1 increases energy expenditure and improves glucose intolerance through enhancing mitochondrial function in skeletal muscle of diabetic mice. J Biol Chem., 284 (21):14050.
  21. * first or corresponding author

  1. Excellent Young Scientist Award [PI; 01-Jan-20 to 31-Dec-22]: “Mechanism of adipose browning” (RMB$1,300,000).
  2. RGC - General Research Fund [PI; 01-Jan-21 to 31-Dec-23]: “Androgen regulates white adipose tissue remodelling via suppression of PRDM16” (HK$1,145,727).
  3. Health Medical Research Fund [PI; 01-Jul-20 to 31-Jul-23]: “ANNEXIN A8 as a novel adipokine mediating visceral obesity-associated metabolic complications” (HK$1,484,540).
  4. RGC - General Research Fund [PI; 01-Oct-19 to 30-Sep-22]: “Thyroid hormone induces facultative thermogenesis in white adipose tissue through UCP1-independent mechanism” (HK$957,916).
  5. Health Medical Research Fund [PI; 01-Sep-19 to 30-Sep-22]: “AMPK γ2 as a master regulator of adipokine transcription: biological function, molecular mechanism and clinical implications” (HK$1,449,248).
  6. Health Medical Research Fund [PI; 01-Apr-18 to 30-Nov-20]: “Lactate produced in adipose tissue as a culprit of obesity-related metabolic complications: mechanisms and clinical implications” (HK$1,155,760).
  7. NSFC - National Natural Science Fundation of China [PI; 01-Jan-17 to 31-Dec-20]: “Protective role of uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) in obesity-induced atherosclerosis” (HK$705,900).
  8. Health Medical Research Fund [PI; 01-Apr-15 to 30-Sep-17]: “SIRT1 in perivascular adipose tissues as a mediator of obesity-induced endothelial dysfunction” (HK$754,700).
  9. NSFC - National Natural Science Foundation of China [PI; 01-Jan-14 to 31-Dec-16]: “Role of SIRT1 in systemic inflammation and insulin resistance” (HK$283,900).
  10. Shen Zhen Basic Research Programme [PI; 01-Jan-14 to 31-Dec-16]: “Perivascular adipose tissue browning in atherosclerosis” (HK$283,900).
  11. AoE - Areas of Excellence [Co-PI; 01-May-19 to 30-Apr-27]: “Institute of Metabolic Medicine” (HK$49,689,000).
  12. France/Hong Kong Joint Research Scheme [Co-PI; 01-Jan-18 to 31-Dec-20]: “The Mechanobiology of Obesity” (HK$90,000).
  13. RGC - General Research Fund [Co-PI; 01-Jan-17 to 31-Dec-19]: “Fibroblast growth factor-21 as an Autocrine Regulator of Browning and Adaptive Thermogenesis in Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue” (HK$1,247,700).
  14. RGC - General Research Fund [Co-PI; 01-Jan-15 to 31-Dec-17]: “Interplay between adiponectin and alternatively-activated macrophages in cold-induced remodeling and adaptive thermogenesis” (HK$957,700).