Row Fogo Centre for Research into Ageing and the Brain
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Visiting students

Profiles of visiting students at the Row Fogo Centre.


Current visiting students

Yajun Cheng

Yajun Cheng - Clinical PhD candidate, Department of Neurology, West China Hospital of Sichuan University (Chengdu, China)

I am currently a final-year PhD student supervised by Prof Ming Liu in Department of Neurology, West China Hospital, Sichuan University. Supported by the China Scholarship Council, I am honoured to have an opportunity to study with Prof Joanna Wardlaw and her SVD research group in Centre of Clinical Brain Sciences (CCBS), The University of Edinburgh from May 2021 to May 2022. After completion of bachelor's degree of clinical medicine, I started my MD-PhD joint study majoring in neurology. During my PhD study, I have been trained systematically in stroke research methods and help manage my supervisor’s national scientific project focusing on the cerebral small vessel disease (SVD). This topic is important because stroke is the leading cause of mortality in China and SVD prevalence is expected to increase as population ageing. I will join the ongoing Mild Stroke Study 3 project in CCBS and learn some advanced imaging techniques to observe what makes SVD worsen or perhaps improve. I believe the one-year study experience in SVD research group would improve my clinical research skills and promote my academic career development.


Xiaodi (Dillys) Liu - PhD Candidate, The University of Hong Kong

Xiaodi Liu

I am currently a PhD candidate supervised by Dr Gary KK Lau in Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong (HKU). My research interests focus on the association between sleep dysfunction and brain health in stroke population. Supported by HKU Research Postgraduate Student Exchange Scheme, I am honoured to take a research visit and work with Prof. Joanna Wardlaw’s team in Centre of Clinical Brain Sciences (CCBS), The University of Edinburgh from January 20 to March 17, 2020, and continue to work remotely after returning to Hong Kong. The project I have been working on in CCBS is entitled “Sleep pattern and cerebral small vessel disease in minor stroke population” as part of the ongoing Mild Stroke Study 3, it is quite interesting to explore the role of sleep in cerebral small vessel disease development and compare results in different ethnic population using similar study design. Even though the visiting period is short, it opened my eyes on advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging techniques, I was enlightened to get a better understanding of cerebral small vessel disease and stroke mechanism by meeting experts from various research fields. After getting back to Hong Kong, this memorable visit helped me to gain the Reaching Out Award under HKSAR Government Scholarship Fund. This would be a new start rather than the end of the journey, I will definitely incorporate the passion and dedication I have learned in CCBS into future stroke research and academic career development.

Junfang Zhang – Clinical PhD student, Department of Neurology, Shanghai General Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine (Shanghai, China)

Junfang Zhang

I am a PhD student at Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine. I received funding from ‘Visiting Programs for Graduate Students and research assistants of Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine’.  I came to spend a year (from Dec 2019 to Nov 2020) studying with Professor Joanna Wardlaw and her group and currently continue working with the SVD Research after my return back to China.

During my bachelor studies, I had an interest in neurology, I followed this interest by completing a Master’s Degree in neurology and mainly focused on stroke, with my thesis entitled “Etiologies and risk factors of ischemic stroke in young adults”.

My current research interests focus on cerebral small vessel disease (SVD), and my project is titled “The relationship between retinal microvascular density and brain imaging measures of small vessel disease in mild ischemic stroke”. We use new scanning techniques of the brain (MRI) and eye (Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography, OCT-A) to work out what happens to these small blood vessels to cause dementia and stroke. I am also working on analyzing brain MRI data from three different cohorts to investigate the relationship between hyperintensities in inferior frontal sulci on FLAIR and other imaging markers of SVD such as white matter hyperintensities and enlarged perivascular spaces.

This year of experience not only helps me to gain more insights into the pathophysiological mechanism of cerebral small vessel disease but also gives me a great opportunity to learn more about clinical research skills. As a result of my work with SVD Research, we published a research paper in one of the key journals. 


Related publication

Zhang et al (2020). The application of optical coherence tomography angiography in cerebral small vessel disease, ischemic stroke, and dementia: a systematic review. 

Publication link



Previous visiting students

Profiles of visiting students who joined our research projects, including their interests, secured funding and achievements while working with the SVD Research groups.


Visiting students working at the Row Fogo Centre in 2020.


Visiting students working at the Row Fogo Centre in 2019.