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A photo of Dr MAK Choi Wo, Judith
Dr MAK Choi Wo, Judith
Principal Lecturer
BSc (London, UK), PhD (London, UK)
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a telephone logo 3917-9753 (Office), 3917-9952 (Lab.)
a fax logo 2816-2095


Dr. Judith Mak is currently Principal Lecturer of Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology & Pharmacy. She received her PhD from the University of London under the supervision of Professor Peter J. Barnes. Following her postdoctoral training and Lecturership at the National Heart & Lung Institute of Imperial College London, she returned to Hong Kong in 2002 and joined the Department of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, where she went through the ranks of Research Assistant Professor, Assistant Professor and Associate Professor. Her early research has been focused on cellular and molecular mechanisms of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), understanding and developing therapies. Her major research contributions have been in the understanding of the development of b2-agonist tolerance, and the interaction between glucocorticoid receptors and b2-adrenoceptors in the intracellular signaling pathways leading to the combination therapy of long-acting inhaled b2-agonist and inhaled glucocorticoid (e.g. SymbicortÒ and SeretideÒ). She is an internationally recognized scientist in the respiratory field. She has authored and co-authored over 110 scientific papers.
Since returning to Hong Kong, she has initially focused on research into biomarkers for asthma and COPD. Her current interests are focused on the effects of oxidative stress in airway epithelial function. She has developed an interest in pathophysiological mechanisms underlying cigarette smoke (CS)-induced lung inflammation in COPD and intermittent hypoxia (IH, a hallmark feature of obstructive sleep apnea)-induced cardiac and endothelial cell injury. She plays particular focuses on understanding how oxidative stress leads to lung inflammation and how Chinese green tea has the potential as therapeutics for the disease in the CS-exposed rat model. She has more recent interests in serotonin homeostasis in cigarette smoke-related COPD. She has published the first paper ever to show the elevation of plasma 5-HT levels in COPD in a case-control study. She is also the first to show the involvement of serotonin metabolism in cigarette smoke-induced oxidative stress in vivo and the novel anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory role of ketanserin (a selective 5-HT2A receptor antagonist). She is currently researching on the impact of environmental pollution and nanoparticles on the lungs using animal models.

Research Profile

Dr mak Research Photo
Photomicrographs of H & E staining for histological changes (A and B), and PAS staining for mucin-containing goblet cells (C and D) of rat lung and airway sections after exposure to sham air (A and C) and cigarette smoke (B and D). Cigarette smoke caused alveolar wall destruction (B) and an increase in the number of mucin-containing goblet cells (D)
  • Investigating the effects of specific pathway inhibitors on the primary cell response to inflammation in the airway epithelium.
  • Elucidation of pathophysiological pathways in rodent models of chronic airway diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (i.e. cigarette smoke-exposed rat model or ozone-exposed mouse model), asthma (i.e. ovalbumin sensitized allergen challenged mouse model), and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) [i.e. intermittent hypoxia-exposed rat model]
  • Translational research using focused therapeutic tool compounds such as various antioxidants including pure EGCG (the major catechin in Chinese green tea) in human primary cells and then to various rodent models in vivo to identify new targets and pathways.
  • Examining the cellular mechanisms of adipokine and serotonin function in chronic airway diseases.

Selected Publications

  1. Han Q, Yeung SC, Ip MS, Mak JCW*. Intermittent hypoxia-induced NF-kB and HO-1 regulation in human endothelial EA.hy926 cells. Cell Biochem. Biophys. 2013;66:431-441. (2012 Impact F. 1.912; 5-year Impact F. 2.7)
  2. Guan S, Tee W, Ng D, Chan T, Peh H, Ho W, Cheng C, Mak J, Wong W. Andrographolide protects against cigarette smoke-induced oxidative lung injury via augmentation of Nrf2 activity. Br. J. Pharmacol. 2013;168:1707-1718. (2012 Impact F. 5.067; 5-year Impact F. 4.898)
  3. Lau WKW, Li X, Yeung DSC, Chan KH, Ip MSM, Mak JCW*. The involvement of serotonin metabolism in cigarette smoke-induced oxidative stress in rat lung in vivo. Free Radic. Res. 2012;46:1413-1419. (2012 Impact F. 3.279; 5-year Impact F. 2.836)
  4. Chan KH, Chan SCH, Yeung SC, Man RYK, Ip MSM, Mak JCW*. Inhibitory effect of Chinese green tea on cigarette smoke-induced up-regulation of airway neutrophil elastase and matrix metalloproteinase-12 via antioxidant activity. Free Radic. Res. 2012; 46:1123-1129. (2012 Impact F. 3.279; 5-year Impact F. 2.836)
  5. Ho Y-S, Yang X, Yeung S-C, Chiu K, Lau CF, Tsang AW-T, Mak JC-W, Chang RC-C. Cigarette smoking accelerated brain aging and induced pre-Alzheimer-like neuropathology in rats. PLoS One. 7:e36752, 2012. (2012 Impact F. 3.730; 5-year Impact F. 4.244)
  6. Lau WKW, Chan-Yeung MMW, Yip BHK, Cheung AHK, Ip MSM, Mak JCW*. The Role of Circulating Serotonin in Development of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. PLoS One 2012; 7:e31617. (2012 Impact F. 3.730; 5-year Impact F. 4.244)
  7. Lau WKW, Chan SC, Law AC, Ip MS, Mak JCW*. The role of MAPK and Nrf2 pathways in ketanserin-elicited attenuation of cigarette smoke-induced IL-8 production in human bronchial epithelial cells. Toxicol. Sci. 2012; 125:569-577. (2012 Impact F. 4.328; 5-year Impact F. 4.836)
  8. Chan KH, Yeung SC, Yao TJ, Ip MSM, Cheung AHK, Chan-Yeung MMW, Mak JCW*. Elevated plasma adiponectin levels in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Int. J. Tuberc. Lung Dis. 14:1193-200, 2010. (2012 Impact F. 2.610; 5-year Impact F. 2.502)
  9. Chan KH, Ho SP, Yeung SC, So WHL, Cho CH, Koo MWL, Lam WK, Ip MSM, Man RYK, Mak JCW*. Chinese green tea ameliorates lung injury in cigarette smoke-exposed rats. Respir. Med. 103:1746-1754, 2009. (2012 Impact F. 2.585; 5-year Impact F. 2.659)
  10. Mak JCW*, Leung HCM, Ho SP, Law BK, Lam WK, Tsang KW, Ip MS, Chan-Yeung M.  Systemic antioxidant and oxidant status in Chinese asthmatic patients.  J. Allergy Clin. Immunol.  114:260-264, 2004. (2012 Impact F. 12.047; 5-year Impact F. 10.108)

Key Offices

  • Associate Editor, Clinical & Experimental Allergy
  • Editorial Board Member, Cardiovascualar Pharmacology: Open Access Journal


  • American Thoracic Society
  • British Pharmacological Society
  • British Association for Lung Research
  • Biochemical Society
  • Hong Kong Thoracic Society
  • Hong Kong Pharmacological Society