Highlights 2017


HKU Professor Kenneth Leung awarded Biwako Prize for Ecology by the Ecological Society of Japan

Professor Kenneth Leung Mei-yee of the HKU Swire Institute of Marine Science and School of Biological Sciences was awarded the 19th Biwako Prize for Ecology jointly by the Government of Shiga Prefecture and the Ecological Society of Japan. The award is presented to outstanding ecologists under the age of 50 who have made academically and socially significant achievements in the field of aquatic ecology in Asia, and demonstrated great potential to become central figures in ecology. Professor Leung developed a novel approach called the field-based species sensitivity distribution (f-SSD), which has been adopted by other countries in their guidelines on sediment quality, water quality standards for metals, and freshwater quality criteria for nutrients and conductivity.  He devotes his time and effort to various community services, especially in environmental protection and biodiversity conservation, and has also made contributions to the development of marine water quality objectives in Hong Kong.


Knowledge Exchange Awards 2017

The annual Faculty Knowledge Exchange (KE) Awards recognise each Faculty’s outstanding KE accomplishment that has made demonstrable economic, social or cultural impacts to benefit the community, business/industry, or partner organisations. Results of the 2017 Faculty KE Awards are now available.


HKU Sustainable Lai Chi Wo Programme selected the first HK case to illustrate best local nature-based solutions to sustainable development

The Equator Initiative of the United Nations Development Programme selected the Sustainable Lai Chi Wo programme, led by the Policy for Sustainability Lab of the HKU Faculty of Social Sciences, as the first and the only selected case from Hong Kong for inclusion in its Solutions Database to showcase the best nature-based solution to sustainable development undertaken by local communities around the globe. HKU President Professor Peter Mathieson announced the news at the International Symposium of Collaborative Governance for Rural Sustainability held at HKU. In addition, HSBC has pledged to support the next phase of the programme which seeks to turn Lai Chi Wo into an innovation hub to demonstrate and incubate new concepts of sustainable living and social-economic models that can be replicated locally and regionally.


HKU partners with Cyberport to set up digital tech entrepreneurship platform to support start-ups

HKU and Hong Kong Cyberport signed a memorandum of understanding to set up the HKU x Cyberport Digital Tech Entrepreneurship Platform to provide support to digital tech start-ups spanning the aspects of human capital, innovation and technologies, entrepreneurship, and legal and business expertise. At the launch of HKU's FinTech Nucleus at Cyberport, SHIELD, a cyber security technology developed by the HKU Center for Information Security and Cryptography was showcased. A portfolio optimisation software "PORTimizer®" and MPF mobile app "MPF Optimal Allocation" developed by the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science was  also demonstrated.


HKU student develops food recognition mobile app Marketeer

HKU Isreali student Mr Daniel Edelson developed Marketeer, a mobile app that recognises fresh food sold in Hong Kong’s wet markets and traditional shops. He utilised Artificial Intelligence with Machine Learning capabilities for recognition of a wide variety of food. The user can get all the information needed according to his/her health condition, body type, and nutritional goals. The app has got a start-up fund totalling HKD $600,000, from HKU DreamCatchers, Cyberport, IBM and the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund. Mr Edelson plans to upload the app on Android in three months.  


HKU receives largest single donation to date from The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust for the establishment of a Centre for Clinical Innovation and Discovery and an Institute of Cancer Care

The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust has pledged to donate $1.244 billion to HKU for the establishment of a Centre for Clinical Innovation and Discovery (CCID) and an Institute of Cancer Care (ICC) at Grantham Hospital (GH) by the Faculty of Medicine. This will be the largest single donation received by the University to date. The CCID and ICC will be the first purpose-built cancer-specific research and service centre in the city and serve as platforms for the translation of innovation and discoveries in science and in models of care for prevention, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and palliation, and for the development of a new holistic cancer care paradigm for Hong Kong.


HKU survey reveals gaming addiction problem among Hong Kong upper primary students

The Social and Health Psychology Laboratory of the HKU Department of Psychology conducted a "Survey on the Gaming Habits among Hong Kong Upper Primary students" from March to May in 2017. A total of 2,006 Primary 4 to 6 students were surveyed. Results reveal that the problem of gaming addiction is prevalent among the students. The research team is concerned about the needs of children and parents, and so they built a Game Over Programme (GOP) website to provide information and downloadable resources for the prevention of gaming addiction.  The website was kick-started on June 20 to provide background information about the project and will be fully launched in early August.


HKU graduates' start-up team develops new bone substitute

Novus, a start-up company formed by an HKU Faculty of Medicine PhD graduate with two fellow PhD students and a winning team of the HKU DreamCatchers 100K Entrepreneurship, developed a new bone substitute which can be applied in a variety of bone-related surgical procedures and will soon be tested in animal total hip replacement. The company will partner with CityU's School of Veterinary Medicine to sponsor NGO Paws Guardian free surgeries for stray dogs.


Global Youth Entrepreneurs Forum 2017 takes place at HKU

The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups and HKU DreamCatchers jointly organised a two-day Global Youth Entrepreneurs Forum 2017 attended by over 1,000 young entrepreneurs from 33 countries and regions around the world under the theme "WE THE FUTURE".


HKU launches first-of-its-kind Water Footprint Calculator to raise water conservation awareness

The "Jockey Club Water Initiative on Sustainability and Engagement," initiated by the Faculty of Social Sciences, with a donation of over HK$14.7 million by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, launched the first-of-its-kind Water Footprint Calculator mobile app, focusing on food and daily dining habits. This innovative and engaging tool, integrated with evidence-based scientific data, could raise public awareness of the importance of heeding water conservation and integrate the concept of water sustainability into our daily life, subsequently leading to a change in attitudes and behaviour in favour of water conservation. The first phase of the Water Footprint Calculator covers more than 90 local popular dishes, snacks, and drinks. Through the mobile app, the public can calculate the water footprint of their choices of daily meals, either by eatery type (such as Chinese restaurant or Hong Kong-style restaurant) or by food category (such as rice/noodles or dim sum), and understand the total amount of freshwater needed to produce the ingredients of those dishes.


Ocean Park, CHSC and HKU hold Happy Kids • Bountiful Life Award Scheme 2017

Ocean Park hosted a presentation for the Happy Kids · Bountiful Life Award Scheme 2017, organised in collaboration the Committee on Home-School Co-operation (CHSC) and HKU Department of Social Work and Social Administration for the third consecutive year. The theme this year was to encourage students to develop a positive attitude and appreciate the happy moments in life. Since the launch of the Happy Kids · Bountiful Life Award Scheme 2017 in mid-March this year, over 6,700 students have received awards. Participating students were required to record every happy moment and something they are grateful for each day in a journal and each school then selected and rewarded 15 students who exhibited the most positivity. Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai of the Department of Social Work and Social Administration said the number of student suicides remained alarmingly high. This year’s Happy Kids · Bountiful Life Award Scheme helped strengthen students’ mental health and prevent youth suicides.


HKU mechanical engineering students won the Airbus Fly Your Ideas 2017 global student competition

Team DAELead, a team of four third-year mechanical engineering students from The University of Hong Kong, has been selected by an expert team of judges as the winner ofthe Airbus Fly Your Ideas 2017 global student competition. Team DAELead beat fierce global competition to win the €30,000 first prize with their effective design for a Private Stowage Compartment (PSC) underneath passenger’s feet. The HKU team was among the top 5 teams, shortlisted from 365 entries globally, to spend a week at the Airbus ProtoSpace facility in Toulouse, France to visualise, prototype and test their ideas using state-of-the-art equipment, before presenting them at the final.


HKU and NGOs organise the first psychosocial intervention programme for children with eczema and parents

Eczema is the most common paediatric skin disease prevalent in around 30% of Hong Kong children. The HKU Department of Social Work and Social Administration, the Boys' & Girls' Clubs Association of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation will jointly offer the territory's first non-pharmaceutical intervention training programme for children with eczema and their parents, so as to enhance the holistic well-being of the parents and the self-esteem, emotional coping and resilience of children in dealing with the disease, as well as facilitate better parent-child relationship in spite of their eczema experience. In a pilot study conducted in 2016 with 27 pairs of parent-child dyad, the results revealed significant improvement in the parents’ psychological and spiritual well-being after the group intervention. 


HKU Faculty of Engineering, Hong Kong Observatory, and Hong Kong Meteorological Society hold earthquake detector design competition

The Earthquake Detector Design Competition was jointly organised by the HKU Faculty of Engineering, Hong Kong Observatory, and Hong Kong Meteorological Society, under the project titled "Earthquake in Hong Kong?", which was supported by the Knowledge Exchange Fund of the University Grant Committee. The competition aims to enhance knowledge of and interest in information technology and seismological instrumentation among the young generations. Over 450 participants from primary, secondary and international schools ranging from Primary 4 to Secondary 6 joined the competition. The Yaumati Catholic Primary School (Hoi Wang Road) was the champion of the junior category, and Christian Alliance Cheng Wing Gee College Team 2 was the champion of the senior category.


HKU and Kyoto U reveal a new strategy to enhance the efficiency of cereal straw for biofuel production

Researchers from HKU and Kyoto University (Kyoto U) revealed a new strategy to allow cellulose in rice straw to release its fermentable sugar more efficiently. Currently, expensive and complicated procedures are required to loosen lignin, a complex polymer which provides mechanical strength and structural integrity in plants, in order to utilise cellulose more efficiently during the production of bioethanol. According to the findings by HKU plant biochemists Dr Clive Lo Sze-chung and Dr Lydia Lam Pui-ying and Kyoto U lignin specialist Dr Yuki Tobimatsu, when flavone synthase II (FNSII), a key enzyme involved in tricin synthesis was knocked out, the lignin content in rice straw was reduced by approximately one-third, the yield of glucose from cellulose degradation was increased by 37% without any chemical treatment. In other words, the efficiency of ethanol production can be enhanced at a lower treatment cost for lignin.


HKU scientists achieve breakthrough in laser imaging; 100 times faster than existing technology

Dr Kevin Tsia, Associate Professor in Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at HKU and his research team developed a new laser-scanning imaging technique that overcomes the limitations of existing technologies, providing more than 100 times faster in scan speed with high image resolution. The new technique could empower new discovery in basic scientific research, with potential applications in a new generation of biomedical microscopy for precise and early diagnosis of diseases including cancers. Dubbed free-space angular-chirp-enhanced delay (FACED) imaging, at the heart of the technique is the “infinity mirror” – a pair of parallel mirrors. Researchers applied this “device” with a subtle twist (~ 0.01 degree). They combine ultrafast pulsed laser and a “tilted” mirror-pair to create an ultrafast sweeping laser beam. Combining FACED imaging with microfluidic technology, the team demonstrated high-resolution and high-throughput single-cell imaging at 10,000 to 100 000 cells per second, which is almost 100 times faster than current microscopy. Such a high throughput imaging could be particularly beneficial for cancer diagnosis by providing an effective and efficient method to detect rare cancer cells in a pool of billions of blood cells.


HKU Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention announces Hong Kong Altruism Index and launches mobile application to promote altruistic acts

The HKJC Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention conducted a survey on altruism in late 2016. A total of 3,016 Hong Kong citizens were randomly recruited in the study on their altruistic behaviours and well-being status. According to statistical analysis, the well-being of people in Hong Kong is positively associated with the overall altruism scores, monetary donation, blood and organ donations and informal help. A mobile app "Helppiness" was also launched to provide information on helping opportunities including volunteering work, Flag Day donation, blood donation, and daily acts of kindness. Users can search and record a wide range of helping opportunities using the app. They can also upload information to promote informal helping in society.


HKU study reveals traditional blood thinner drug is associated with a higher risk of osteoporotic fracture compared to newer drug

The HKU Faculty of Medicine analysed 8,152 atrial fibrillation patients who had attended public hospitals in Hong Kong from 2010 to 2014. The study revealed for the first time that when comparing the traditional drug warfarin to the newer drug dabigatran, warfarin was significantly associated with higher risk of osteoporotic fracture, which may increase the morbidity and mortality among the elderly, compared to dabigatran.


Faculty of Social Sciences and six NGOs launch "Jockey Club Holistic Support Project for Elderly Mental Wellness"

With HK$87million in funding support the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the HKU Faculty of Social Sciences and six NGOs will launch a three-year pilot programme called "Holistic Support Project for Elderly Mental Wellness" that aims to provide a mature, evidence-based service model for the promotion of elderly mental wellness in the community. More than 2,000 volunteers and over 100 elderly volunteers will be trained to identify elders with symptoms of depression. Four pilot locations have been selected in this project: Kwai Chung, Kwun Tong, Sham Shui Po, and Tseung Kwan O. The campaign will conduct 69,000 visits and reach 3,800 elderly people.


HKU research team identifies mutation in H7N9 virus which enhances human infection

The research team from the State Key Laboratory for Emerging Infectious Diseases of HKU and the HKU Department of Microbiology have identified a mutation in the H7N9 virus which gives it a greater ability to infect humans while continuing to circulate effectively in poultry. Professor Chen Honglin who headed the research said this study provided an important biomarker for monitoring the emergence and transmission of avian influenza viruses in humans and preventing human-to-human infection. The mutation can also serve as a novel target of anti-influenza drug development.


HKU collaborates with National Academy of Medicine to nurture future talents and tackle global health issues

HKU entered into a partnership agreement with the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in February 2017 to nurture future talents and to jointly tackle global challenges. Working with the NAM President Dr. Victor Dzau, HKU Vice President (Global) Professor John Kao helped establish several collaboration projects between HKU and NAM including an HKU-NAM International Fellowship Program for mid-career HKU faculty staff to work in Washington DC; organisation of international roundtables and summits to tackle global health-related issues such as regenerative medicine, mental health, ageing, and gender equity; and contextualisation of NAM consensus studies that are of practical use for HK. NAM is a world premier nonprofit, non-governmental organisation that provides advice on issues relating to biomedical science and health to policy-makers, professionals, leaders, and the public in the US and around the world.


HKU Faculty of Medicine presents "Big Shots" photo exhibition in celebration of 130 years of medicine in Hong Kong

The HKU Faculty of Medicine hosted an opening ceremony for the "Big Shots" Photo Exhibition, as part of the yearlong celebrations to mark "130 Years of Medicine in Hong Kong". The exhibition consists of two sections: World of Doctors to feature the works of renowned photographer Ducky Tse on the challenges and moments in the lives of 29 Faculty professors, alumni and students; and Doctors’ World, a collection of photographs taken by 32 alumni and curated by Professor Richard Yu and Dr Leo KK Wong. The exhibition will be open to the public from now until March 29 at the Exhibition Gallery of the Hong Kong Central Library. After that it will be staged at the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre from May 4 to May 30. Part of the works will be exhibited at six other locations throughout Hong Kong between April 1 and May 27.


HKU HKJC Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention holds ceremony to award 14 student-initiated suicide prevention programmes  

WeCare Fund for Student-Initiated Youth Suicide Prevention Project is the very first cross-institutional student initiated suicide prevention project conducted by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention. The Fund aims to encourage students, with the support of professional advisors, to organise, initiate, and implement mental health related projects at university campuses, and through the projects to nurture positive emotions at campuses and to enhance awareness of mental health issues among youths. An award ceremony was held to award 14 programmes from 10 tertiary institutions. The champion was the "Shall we talk" team from Hong Kong Baptist University. They expressed their concerns over issues regarding suicide through a self-directed play, written with an aim to inspire audience to reflect on their roles in suicide prevention, as well as deliver the message of treasuring life and emphasise the importance of communication. 


HKU Faculty of Dentistry holds Knowledge Exchange Award Ceremony 2017

The Faculty of Dentistry held the Inaugural Knowledge Exchange Award Ceremony at Prince Philip Dental Hospital to kick off its 35th anniversary celebration. The 11 awarded projects served the communities in various ways. They included a Mobile Dental Clinics to offer citizens free oral check-ups, scaling and cavity filling service, and seminars and talks to promote precautionary measures against oral diseases. Beneficiaries from these projects included Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers, children with special needs, foreign domestic helpers, and the Muslim community. Some of the projects were outreach service outside Hong Kong to places in Mainland China and remote overseas areas.


HKU Stephen Hui Geological Museum holds exhibition on private mineral collections in Hong Kong

The HKU Stephen Hui Geological Museum will hold in collaboration with the Mineralogy Society of Hong Kong a "Mineral Collections in Hong Kong" exhibition from March 3 to August 31, to showcase over 200 precious minerals from 18 private collectors in Hong Kong. The exhibits include one of the best gemmy single crystals of Tanzanite from Merelani Mine, a very rare large gem quality Aquamarine on Albite with large fluid inclusions from Balochi, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, and a 18 cm large gemmy Rhodochrosite on Quartz from the famous Sweet Home Mine in Colorado, U.S.A.. The mineral display cabinet of the late Dr Stephen Hui Sze-fun with a selection from his private collection is also included.


HKU conducted the first demographic study of the Chinese white dolphins in the Pearl River Estuary and urges conservation of dolphin critical habitat

A demographic study of the Chinese white dolphins inhabiting the Pearl River Estuary, led by Dr Leszek Karczmarski, Associate Professor at the HKU School of Biological Sciences, revealed that the PRE dolphin population is declining approximately 2.5% per year and is fast approaching its viability threshold. The findings indicated that the PRE dolphin population is deemed to become extinct unless effective conservation measures can rapidly reverse the current population trend.


HKU Faculty of Education launches new book on Cantonese operatic singing art

Since 2006, the Centre for Advancement of Chinese Language Education and Research (CACLER) of the Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong (HKU), has been working together with partnering schools, under the HKU Cantonese Opera Education and Research Project, to integrate Cantonese Opera into the secondary school curriculum and on related researches. In 2015, the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust funded the research team led by Dr Dorothy Ng Fung-ping to implement the Publication Project of Cantonese Operatic Singing Art of Leung Yi-chung and Leung So-kam. This new publication records the artistic achievements of Mr Leung Yi-chung and Ms Leung So-kam and gives an account of the Cantonese operatic singing art of the latter.


Music and Architecture Listen to the Echoes

The Departments of Music and Architecture have entered into an unusual collaboration to explore their mutual interest in sound and space, through a two-year project called Sounding Architecture.


Knowledge Exchange (KE) Excellence Award 2016

The university-level KE Excellence Award was introduced in 2015-16 to recognize the significant impact that our academic staff had made to benefit society. Ms Amanda S. Whitfort of the Faculty of Law has received the KE Excellence Award 2016.


HKU Asia Global Institute launches AsiaGlobal Fellows Programme

The Asia Global Institute at HKU has launched the AsiaGlobal Fellows programme to select 16 fellows from around the world each year for a fully-funded 13-week inter-disciplinary global leadership development programme. The fellows are expected to be mid-career professionals who have already demonstrated strong leadership potential and are up-and-coming influencers in politics, policy-making, business, or civil society. They are also expected to share a common career interest in Asia-related policy matters. The program is the first of its kind in Asia.


Leisure and Cultural Services Department and HKU to hold exhibition on Professor Jao Tsung-i's works on Dunhuang culture

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department and HKU will jointly hold the exhibition "Splendour of Dunhuang: Jao Tsung-i's Selected Academic and Art Works Inspired by Dunhuang Culture", featuring Professor Jao's publications, letters, manuscripts, paintings and calligraphy which are related to Dunhuang arts and culture. The exhibition will be staged at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum from May to September.


Historic Hong Kong photographs available for viewing online at the Hong Kong Image Database of HKU

Hungarian Photographer Dezső Bozóky's historic Hong Kong photographs are now available online at the Hong Kong Image Database for public viewing. This collaborative project between The University Museum and Art Gallery and the Hong Kong Image Database of HKU Libraries features 58 historical images from 1900s era Hong Kong. 30 of these photographs are currently on display in the Pictures of the Past: Hungarian Photographer Dezső Bozóky in Hong Kong at UMAG from now until January 8, 2017. Bozóky (1871-1957) took approximately 1,500 photographs across East Asia, including in China, Korea and Japan; a total of 58 images were shot in Hong Kong. His archive forms a collective memory of a colonial Hong Kong that has largely vanished from the landscape.


HKU study reveals Hong Kong hosts more than ¼ of all marine species recorded in China

Hong Kong has a record of 5,943 marine species, according to a recent review by a research group led by Professor Gray A. Williams of The Swire Institute of Marine Science (SWIMS) and School of Biological Sciences of  HKU. This first comprehensive review of local marine biodiversity shows that with only about 1,651 km2 marine area (~0.03% of China's total), Hong Kong already accounts for ~26% of the total marine species recorded in China. However, currently only less than 2% of Hong Kong’s marine area is protected as marine parks or reserve. The research team urged the government to move towards the global target of at least 10% marine protected area by the year 2020 under United Nation's Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). To establish a platform for the international scientific community to access the marine species in Hong Kong for conservation, research and education purposes, the research team, in collaboration with international experts, has also launched the Hong Kong Register of Marine Species (HKRMS) under the umbrella of the largest global marine biodiversity database, the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS). Hong Kong is one of only ten regions in the world that has such a regional species database, and was the first in Asia.


Two HKU architects receive RIBA Award for International Excellence and International Emerging Architect

Mr Joshua Bolchover and Mr John Lin, Associate Professors in the HKU Faculty of Architecture, earlier received the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Award for International Excellence as well as the RIBA International Emerging Architect prize for their Andong Hospital project in Baojing County, Hunan in Mainland China. The project team aimed at developing a publicly-friendly model rural health care building capable of supporting the many progressive reforms on rural hospital management and care giving.


KE in The Review 2016

The University has been pursuing and promoting impact opportunities through knowledge exchange in a variety of ways. "Our effort to bring the fruits of our work beyond the campus and academic world is snowballing and will gain further momentum in future," says Professor Peter Mathieson, President and Vice-Chancellor, in 'The Review 2016'.