Highlights 2015


HKU biomedical engineers develop new cartilage regeneration technology to grow cartilage from one's own cells for cartilage repairs

An HKU research team, led by Dr Barbara Chan, Associate Professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has developed a new cartilage regeneration technology to grow cartilage tissues out of cells taken from one's body. The cells, in particular stem cells extracted from one's bone marrow, can be grown into cartilage tissues of the shape and size fit for cartilage repairs and replacements. Since the replacement parts are fully biocompatible, patients could be benefited from rapid healing without the need to harvest donor cartilage from the patients. The research team is in the process of translating the technology for use on human. The commercialization of this technology was assisted by the HKU Technology Transfer Office.

HKU Faculty of Engineering organizes the "Invention for Schools Contest"

The "Invention for Schools Contest" is organized by the Faculty of Engineering with the support of HKU Knowledge Exchange Fund. Over a hundred students from primary 2 to secondary 5 joined the competition. They are required to use credit card-sized computers to make inventions that would be useful to their schools.

HKU scientists discover a drought tolerance gene that may help plants survive global warming

In recent years, scientists have been researching how to improve drought resistance in plants, so as to enhance growth and productivity of crops in dry weather conditions. Groundbreaking technology from HKU may provide a solution to this problem on drought stress. Funded by the Wilson and Amelia Wong Endowment Fund, Professor Chye Mee Len at the HKU School of Biological Sciences and  her lab members have identified a gene from the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana which encodes an acyl-CoA-binding protein (ACBP). The gene, designated as ACBP2, can confer drought tolerance in transgenic Arabidopsis. Overexpression of ACBP2 in these transgenic lines promoted stomatal closure, reduced water loss and enhanced drought tolerance. With the assistance of the University's Technology Transfer Office, the technology has been licensed to an internationally recognized agricultural company specializing in the development of biofuel and biolubricant production crop, Camelina sativa, for potential applications in oil production and commercialization.

HKU start-up wins Red Herring's 2015 Top 100 Asia Award

Living Tissues Company Limited, one of the HKU startup companies, has been awarded the 2015 Red Herring Asia Top 100 Award. This Red Herring Top 100 Award honors companies that deliver potentially strong technology and innovation in Asia, Europe and the Americas. Many world-renowned corporations like Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were once winners of this prestigious award.

High-energy efficient LED driver invented by HKU researchers and commercialized

A research team of HKU Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering led by Professor Ron Hui Shu-yuen, Chair of Power Electronics, invented a passive LED driver that has an edge over conventional LED in terms of lifespan and environment friendliness. Its components can last 10 years and are 80% recyclable. With the assistance of the University's Technology Transfer Office, the technology has been licensed to a tech company in Hong Kong. It is being tested in Heshan, Guangdong, and will be tested in places with more extreme temperatures before going into mass production.

Junior Chefs Master Science

A cooking competition organised by the Faculty of Science encouraged  junior secondary school students to apply scientific principles in their daily lives. Dr Benny Ng of the Faculty led the SciChef Cooking Challenge, in which junior secondary school students had to select a recipe, find a way to improve it, explain the science behind their efforts to a panel of judges, and cook up the dish. Through this competition, the students learned to relate science to their daily lives.

HKU Swire Institute of Marine Science helping local oyster industry

The Hong Kong Oyster (Crassostrea hongkonggensis) is tasty and highly nutritious and has also helped to clean and enrich our deep bay waters, yet the local oyster industry is under threat. Dr V Thiyagarajan of the Swire Institute of Marine Science (SWIMS), led a programme to get the public involved through workshops and hands-on training aimed at raising public awareness and use technology to help local growers. The programme was funded by the HKU Knowledge Exchange Fund and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

HKU WAY Project to launch Mobile Living Museum and new book on the culture of fisheries and water communities in Aberdeen

The HKU We Are With You (WAY) Project, under the Centre of Development and Resources for Students (CEDARS), will set up the first Water Community Mobile Living Museum from March 25 to 29, 2016 at the Stanley Community Hall to promote public understanding of the history of local fisheries and the water communities in the Southern District. The book talk was on Memoryscape: Aberdeen Fishermen Oral Histories, which is about fishermen's stories collected through interviews. The book’s author and project research officer Dr Wong Wai-ling moderated at the talk where fishermen shared their memories of Aberdeen, a fishing port leading to the seas where the fishermen made a living, experienced complex emotions and developed their identities.

HKU botanists discover a new plant growth technology that may alleviate climate change and food shortage

A research team led by Dr Wallace Lim Boon-leong with his former student Dr Law Yee-song at the HKU School of Biological Sciences has developed a new strategy to promote plant growth and seed yield by 38% to 57% in a model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, hence increasing CO2 absorption from the atmosphere. The researchers have identified a plant-growth promoting gene, designated as "Purple acid phosphatase 2"(AtPAP2) from the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. AtPAP2 can modulate the import of a number of specific proteins into chloroplasts and mitochondria, and subsequently boost their capability to harvest solar energy and generate adenosine triphosphate. The technology may also have potential in boosting food production to address the problem of food shortage due to overpopulation. Several patent applications have been filed with the assistance of the University's Technology Transfer Office.

Faculty of Architecture’s Knowledge Exchange Report 2013-14/2014-15

HKU Faculty of Architecture presents examples of their activities that illustrate a range of engagements in its Knowledge Exchange Report 2013-14/2014-15.  These  community engagement projects bring architecture, landscape, conservation and urbanism to the public. There are also examples of projects in which the Faculty works with the community and professionals to help solve community problems.

HKU scientists found Hong Kong coral reef thriving despite pollution

A research team led by Dr David Baker of HKU's School of Biological Sciences found that marine life is thriving despite serious pollution caused by major developments at Hong Kong's busy harbour. The stronger types of coral species are holding on despite the unrelenting conditions, and the scientists are studying how they survive, which may offer hope to habitats under threat globally in the future.

"Dissecting the Meaning of Life – An Anthology of Essays on Body Donation" shortlisted in the 27th Secondary School Students' Best Ten Books Election

The book "Dissecting the Meaning of Life–An Anthology of Essays on Body Donation" has been selected as one of the shortlisted titles of the 27th Secondary School Students' Best Ten Books Election in Hong Kong. The book was initiated by the HKU Body Donation Programme, which was co-ordinated by Dr Lap Ki Chan, Associate Professor of the Institute of Medical and Health Sciences Education (IMHSE) and School of Biomedical Sciences. It was supported by the HKU Knowledge Exchange Fund and IMHSE.

HKU Social Sciences Research Centre announces "Language use, proficiency and attitudes in Hong Kong" survey findings

The Social Sciences Research Centre of the University carried out a research project that involved (i) the conduct of a community-wide language survey from August 2014 - January 2015; and (ii) the detailed analysis of language data from the 2011 Census of the HKSAR. The project was funded by the Public Policy Research Funding Scheme of the Central Policy Unit, HKSARG. The results of the project have the potential to contribute to a much greater understanding of patterns of language acquisition, language use and multilingualism within the Hong Kong community; and will contribute to a much fuller understanding of language acquisition, language use and multilingualism within the Hong Kong community.

HKU wins the Inaugural Louis Vuitton Supply Chain University Contest

"Team HKG", represented by the students of the HKU Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Business and Economics won the inaugural Louis Vuitton Supply Chain University Contest held earlier with its design on logistics distribution strategy. Students from six top universities in Europe, North America and Asia participated in the contest.

HKU Students join the "Cyberport University Partnership Programme"

The University of Hong Kong has six teams selected to join the "Cyberport University Partnership Programme" (CUPP) organized by Cyberport Management Company Limited (Cyberport), in collaboration with Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB), with a focus on financial technology (FinTech). The programme offers a unique opportunity for students of local universities to unlock their potential, gain insights into the global market, and receive world-class training through a customized boot camp and mentorship in Hong Kong and overseas. All teams will join a free one-week CUPP Entrepreneurship Boot Camp at Stanford GSB in late September 2015. The boot camp will include lectures, case studies, group work, guest speaker sessions, personal coaching and pitch training.

All teams will present their ideas and business models on the Demo Day during the Global Entrepreneurship Week China – Hong Kong at Cyberport in November 2015. A distinguished panel of judges will select the most outstanding teams, which will each be awarded a cash prize of HK$100,000 and shortlisted to join Cyberport Incubation Programme interview.

Knowledge Exchange Awards 2015

The Faculty Knowledge Exchange (KE) Awards were introduced in 2011 in order to recognize each Faculty’s outstanding KE accomplishment that has made demonstrable economic, social or cultural impacts to benefit the community, business/industry, or partner organizations. Results of the 2015 Faculty KE Awards are now available.

HKU Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy hosts Drug Information Day

HKU Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy of Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine hosted a Drug Information Day at Un Chau Estate, Cheung Sha Wan on August 30, 2015. About 600 people attended. A talk was given on the myth about antibiotics. Students also explained the use of antibiotics to members of the public. Registered pharmacists answered questions the public had about their medication.

HKU Faculty of Engineering creates innovative “imseCAVE” - a high performance, low cost, virtual environment for industrial applications and training

The HKU Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering has created the imseCAVE – an immersive virtual environment – through the integration and innovative customization of state-of-the-art engineering and technologies including virtual and augmented reality, sensor network, distributed computing, big-data processing and management. The device can be readily applied in industrial, commercial and non-commercial use with high mobility. It has been deployed in the simulation of very large and complex logistics systems. It was used to develop virtual reality-empowered training systems and programmes for ramp operations in Cathay Pacific Services Limited. Experiments can be performed on the virtual simulation systems whereby operational and design parameters can be investigated in a safe and controlled environment.

HKU Faculty of Medicine offers first-aid training to domestic helpers

Bringing emergency medicine to the community, HKU Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine and medical students organised talks and workshops on first aid for 300 domestic helpers. The purpose is to empower them with basic life support skills, namely bystander CPR and choking management, for the elderly. According to a local study, the mean age of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) patients in Hong Kong was 71.5 years and 66% of cases happened at home. Dr Fan Kit-ling, Clinical Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine Unit, said that each one minute of delayed rescue would lower the survival rate by 7%-10% in case of a cardiac arrest. If CPR is performed immediately, the chance of survival will increase by two to three times.

New website launched to help students with mathematics difficulties: Maths Buddy

The Maths Buddy website, jointly developed by Dr Sandra Tsang Kit Man of the Department of Social Work and Social Administration, and Dr Ida Mok Ah Chee of the Faculty of Education, focuses on helping children with mathematics difficulties at primary school level. The resources include an introduction, tools for learning mathematics, suggested games and stories of hope shared by a doctor and his family of a child with dyslexia and math difficulties. The tools and experience shared by the family may be helpful to other children with dyscalculia, math difficulties associated with dyslexia / attention-deficit disorders / other special educational needs. This website project was supported by the HKU Knowledge Exchange funding.


Student KE Projects 2014/15

The Student KE Project Grant Scheme was introduced in 2011/12 under the KE Funding Exercise. It aims to promote a student culture of contributing to society through applying their knowledge gained at HKU; to nurture the spirit of innovation among students; and to promote the development of engagement projects between students of the University and external organizations. Since 2014/15, the student KE project grants are administered under the Service 100 Fund of the Centre of Development and Resources for Students (CEDARS).

HKU Department of Diagnostic Radiology launches a new knowledge exchange website: Medical Imaging and Radiation

The "Medical Imaging and Radiation" website, developed by the Department of Diagnostic Radiology and supported by the Knowledge Exchange (KE) Funding Scheme, has been launched. This website is intended to serve as an e-resource for public from all walks of life, focusing on medical imaging and its relationship with radiation. The website consists of sections on introduction to radiation, various imaging modalities and useful tips that will assist individuals in the process of decision-making when considering imaging test. The website aims at benefiting both professionals and patient groups, and anyone with an interest in radiation and medical imaging.

Bio International Convention 2015

The Technology Transfer Office (TTO) co-ordinated HKU's participation in the Bio International Convention 2015, which was held in Philadelphia, USA, from June 15-18, 2015. Five projects relating to treatment of infectious diseases as well as treatment of cancer by bacterial therapy and chemical drugs were showcased at the event.

Going through grief

The nuclear families, longer life spans and breakdown of community that characterise modern living mean that more and more people are alone in bereavement. Dr Amy Chow of the Department of Social Work and Social Administration has been developing interventions to help people navigate the tides of grief.

Hong Kong's malaria-ridden past

A KE-funded exhibition titled Fever: The History of Malaria in Hong Kong, co-presented by the Centre for the Humanities and Medicine of HKU and Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences, revisits Hong Kong's battle with malaria in the past and alerts people to the prevalence of the disease in other parts of the world.

Proposed solution to better retirement

Professor Nelson Wing-Sun Chow of the Department of Social Work and Social Administration talks about his study on the future development of retirement security in Hong Kong and the questions that need to be discussed by the government and the general public.

HKU Faculty of Medicine presents new book on Dissecting the Meaning of Life: An Anthology of Essays on Body Donation

The HKU School of Biomedical Sciences Division of Anatomy joined hands with the Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit to present a new bilingual book, Dissecting the Meaning of Life: An Anthology of Essays on Body Donation. Included in the book are essays written by medical students reflecting on their dissection experience and their relationships with their Great Body Teachers, and the book is dedicated to all the body donors and their families over the past 40 years. A book launch was held where writers and medical students shared their views on body donation and anatomy dissection.

HKU Department of Architecture holds Degree Show 2014-15

The Degree Show is an annual event to showcase graduation projects and projects by students in various masters and undergraduate programmes at the Faculty of Architecture. The exhibition is held from June 20 to 29 at the HKU Department of Architecture. The projects represent the students' visions of the built-environment, reflecting their concerns with social and cultural environments, and their determination to tackle contemporary issues in architecture with new approaches.

HKU Museum showcases the world's largest collection of Nestorian Crosses

More than 700 pieces of re-installed Nestorian Crosses from the Yuan dynasty will be on view at the University Museum and Art Gallery (UMAG) from June 10, 2015 onwards. A series of events will be held, which includes an international 3-day conference on Jing Jiao on June 10 – 12, 2015 and a public talk on Christianity in China in the Tang and Yuan Dynasties on June 13, 2015. HKU's Nestorian crosses were collected by Mr. F. A. Nixon who served as a British postal commissioner in Beijing in the 1930s and 1940s. The collection was subsequently acquired by the Lee Hysan Foundation and donated to Hong Kong University in 1961.

Launch of "JC A-Connect: Jockey Club Autism Support Network"

The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust has earmarked HK$167 million for a three-year programme to provide better support for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), their families and schools. The HKU Faculty of Social Sciences, the Education Bureau and six NGOs will collaborate in this programme, commencing in the 2015/16 academic year. Coaching programmes, teacher training and research will be conducted to improve the social communication, emotional regulation and learning strategies of the students to help with behavioral problems and enhance their overall learning ability and social skills. The evidence-based programme will place emphasis on the partnership of families and schools, which aims to enhance skills of teachers and parents competency in handling these cases and provide students with prompt and appropriate intervention, according to Dr Irene Ho and Dr Sandra Tsang of the HKU Faculty of Social Sciences.

HKU holds an entrepreneurship forum with 67 speakers sharing their experiences at DreamCatchers

Sixty-seven speakers shared their experience on start-ups at an entrepreneurship forum, DreamCatchers, held at The University of Hong Kong on May 31, 2015. The forum was attended by 1000 delegates. The keynote was delivered by Mr Pony Ma, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Tencent.

HKU earth scientist collaborates with international experts to develop new laser-induced fluorescence techniques to uncover never-before-seen details in fossils

HKU Department of Earth Sciences' Vertebrate Palaeontology Laboratory Head Dr Michael Pittman has developed, together with eight international colleagues, a simple new technique to analyse fossils. The technique, called laser-stimulated fluorescence (LSF), utilises lasers to stimulate fluorescence in fossils that normally do not fluoresce under standard UV lighting, with the new view photographed through a camera lens. Each colour of laser emits a different wavelength of light, which excites the minerals that make up a fossil in different ways. LSF provides an instantaneous, non-invasive, geochemical fingerprint of fossilised bone, soft tissue, integument and the surrounding rock matrix. The ability to look for hidden specimens in a fossil's rock matrix used to be only possible using X-rays, CT scans and other high-cost imaging methods. With LSF, researchers can set up a basic station quickly and for around HK$4000.

HKU Stephen Hui Geological Museum launches exhibition to showcase 65 million years of climate change

The HKU Stephen Hui Geological Museum launched a permanent exhibition on "Cenozoic Climate Change" on Earth Day (April 22, 2015) to trace the history of climate change back 65 million years to the start of the Cenozoic Era – the advent of the age of mammals, which continues into the present. On display are a range of paleoclimate "proxies", from 3,000 year-old tree rings and marine sediments to fossilised marine micro-organisms and mammals, all of which serve as organic "records" of the planet's climatological past. According to Professor Zong Yongqiang of the HKU Department of Earth Sciences, a look into the earth’s Cenozoic past will reveal short-term "abrupt climate changes" when temperature and CO2 levels rise rapidly, sometimes causing highly disruptive effects including extinctions of certain species. Carbon dioxide concentrations have risen steeply since the beginning of the industrial revolution, which should be alarming to people that climate change should be taken seriously and that the climate could respond in an abrupt and unexpected way.

HKU Youth Quitline marks its tenth anniversary in helping young smokers

The youth-oriented smoking cessation hotline "Youth Quitline", jointly established by the Smoking Cessation Research Team at the HKU Faculty of Medicine, the Department of Social Work and Social Administration, and the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health has since 2005 received over 7,000 telephone inquiries, provided smoking cessation counselling for 1,591 youth smokers. As of January 31, 2015, the smoking cessation rate after joining the programme for six months was 23.6%.

HKU Medical Faculty develops new atrial fibrillation management app and launches AF screening programme

The HKU Department of Medicine has initiated two new measures for management of stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), namely the AF management app and private doctors AF screening programme. HKU AF CAL is a free new mobile app designed to help doctors managing their patients with atrial fibrillation. By using the five clinical calculators, doctors can assess the ischemic stroke risk and major bleeding risk of patients with AF, and assessing the quality control of anticoagulation for those patients on warfarin. The research team will in phase road-show 18 regions in Hong Kong providing certificate course for up-to-date AF management to private doctors. The team will recruit 1,000 private doctors to perform AF screening and the ultimate goal is to reach 100-150 thousands of high-risk patients and provide them with proper treatments.

HKU Department of Real Estate and Construction launches online platform on Building Maintenance Cost (BMC) Database and Estimator

Most building owners in Hong Kong are vulnerable to exploitative methods such as bid-rigging and price inflation by unscrupulous consultants and contractors when undertaking building maintenance projects. A research team from HKU Department of Real Estate and Construction, led by Professor K. W. Chau, was commissioned by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) to analyze data on cost of building maintenance of 426 Operation Building Bright (OBB) projects that were managed by the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) and Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS) between 2009 and 2013. An interactive online platform, including a Building Maintenance Cost (BMC) Estimator, has been established to disseminate the findings of the project and help building owners estimate maintenance cost. To further enhance the transparency of the building maintenance market, the research team would like to appeal to owners of private buildings that have undergone comprehensive non-subsidized maintenance works to contact its department so that maintenance cost information can be shared, collectively analyzed, and publicized as reference benchmarks for the benefit of everyone in Hong Kong.

HKU School of Business principal lecturer set up Asia's first not-for-profit domestic helpers recruitment agency

Mr David Bishop, Principal Lecturer at the HKU School of Business, co-founded Fair Employment Agency (FEA), which has placed 49 domestic helpers with employers in Hong Kong without charging placement fees from helpers since September 2014. Mr Bishop set up the not-for-profit social enterprise in response to the abuse of an Indonesian helper made headlines. Helpers recruited by FEA do not have to pay any placement fee. The agency will charge employers service fees ranging from HK$2,000 to HK$7,500. The agency's corporate documents were drafted so that the founders cannot receive any windfall from profits. These will be directed back into the agency to expand its initiatives. The Fair Employment Campaign 2014/15, which aims to promote the concept of "fair employment" among HKU students, partnering firms and the public, is supported by the HKU Knowledge Exchange Fund granted by the University Grants Committee.

"The WAY I•CARE!" symposium and project exhibition held to enhance knowledge exchange and mobilize community resources

HKU and CUHK have initiated the "We Are with You Project" (WAY) and "I•CARE Programme" (Local Poverty Alleviation Initiative) respectively with the support of Chow Tai Fook Charity Foundation since 2013 to help the community accumulate social capital and mobilize resource exchange through social networking, knowledge exchange, direct services, research, social enterprises incubation and various community engagement activities. "The WAY I•CARE! University Community Engagement Symposium cum Project Exhibition" was held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on February 10, 2015 to provide a platform for students, faculties and community partners to share their strategies, challenges and success on university-community engagement, as well as to exchange ideas and resources to develop new projects.

HKU promotes oral health in local communities

The HKU Faculty of Dentistry and the charity group Project Concern Hong Kong are co-organizing an oral health campaign consisting of three "Love and Clean Teeth Days" in different parts of Hong Kong. The first one will be held on January 24, 2015 at a public housing estate in Tung Chung. These day-long events will include free oral check-up, demonstrations and treatment services, as well as sharing of dental knowledge at public exhibitions. Furthermore, the HKU Faculty of Dentistry team will provide training for staff of Project Concern Hong Kong to deliver preventive oral health services throughout Hong Kong on a dental service bus. This is an Impact Project supported by the HKU Knowledge Exchange Fund granted by the University Grants Committee.

KE in The Review 2014

The Review 2014 looks back at another fruitful year for knowledge exchange and also looks ahead to further developments. "HKU scholars have been actively bringing their findings into the community through knowledge exchange. I hope we can take these activities further by focusing more on the question of 'impact'," says Professor Peter Mathieson, President and Vice-Chancellor. "We have a moral responsibility to engage the public in what we are doing and to use our knowledge to inform public debate. This is an area where HKU has much potential to lead in Hong Kong and the region, and we will be doing more in this direction in future."