Highlights 2016

2016

HKU Faculty of Engineering organizes "Earthquake Detector Design Competition" together with Hong Kong Observatory and Hong Kong Meteorological Society for over 300 primary and secondary school students

Most people in Hong Kong consider Hong Kong to be earthquake-free, so the community has low awareness of earthquakes and community resilience is lacking. Supported by the HKU Knowledge Exchange Fund, HKU Faculty of Engineering, Hong Kong Observatory and Hong Kong Meteorological Society jointly organized the "Earthquake Detector Design Competition" to raise people’s awareness of earthquakes so that they can be more prepared for earthquakes and other emergencies. Over 300 students from primary 2 to secondary 5 joined the competition. They were required to design and implement an earthquake detector. A series of talks were conducted to enhance the participants’ understanding of earthquake and its measurement, as well as the hardware and software techniques to build an earthquake detector. An exhibition will be held in April 2017 to showcase the designs of the students.

 

HKU Emergency Medicine Unit develops mobile app on AED application

A survey by the HKU Medical Faculty's Emergency Medicine Unit (EMU) revealed a general lack of first-aid skills and knowledge among the public, which resulted in the survival rate of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest cases in Hong Kong among the lowest in Asia. Of the 401 people interviewed, only 22% had received Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training and only 12% had training in Automated External Defibrillator (AED) application. The survival rate of cardiac arrest cases happening outside hospital was about 2.3% in 2012-13, which was lower than the rates in South Korea (8.5%), Japan (5.2%) and Taiwan (4.6%). EMU has initiated a series of community projects to improve first-aid knowledge of general public, including elderly CPR course and domestic workers CPR workshops and seminars. The team has also started a resuscitation project at 30 secondary schools and developed a free mobile app to provide instructions on AED application and help users locate the nearest devices.

 

HKU supports "Young and Alcohol Free" campaign

The Department of Health launched a new publicity campaign entitled "Young and Alcohol Free" supported by the HKU School of Public Health. The campaign aims to step up efforts to combat underage drinking. According to Associate Professor of the School of Public Health Dr Daniel Ho, parents are children's main source of alcohol, common pro-drinking practices encourage their children to drink and parents often underestimate the severity of underage drinking. An HKU study revealed that primary and secondary school students residing with parents, siblings and grandparents who were drinkers were more likely to develop drinking habits than those whose families did not. Moreover, children, especially primary school pupils, exposed to pro-drinking practices such as buying alcohol, pouring alcohol and opening bottles for parents were more likely to start underage drinking.

 

HKU introduces new bereavement counselling model

Dr Amy Chow, Associate Professor of the Department of Social Work and Social Administration, in collaboration with the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGHs) developed the "Reweaving Grief" innovative bereavement counselling model in Hong Kong. The model was adopted from the Woven Memories initiative  founded by Ms Mary Burgess in Australia, for people who keep clothes and other fabrics belongings of deceased family members, and developed with cultural consideration for Hong Kong. This project is expected to offer a new choice to bereaved persons in Hong Kong who do not prefer formal counseling.

 

Faculty of Social Sciences and NGOs launch Jockey Club Water Initiative on Sustainability and Engagement

The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust has provided over HK$14.7 million to support the Faculty of Social Sciences of HKU – in collaboration with six environmental NGOs – to launch a three-year project entitled "Jockey Club Water Initiative on Sustainability and Engagement" (JC-WISE). Through a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional and cross-sectoral collaboration, JC-WISE aims to elevate the level of public awareness, and appreciation, of the importance of water conservation and sustainability. Dr Frederick Lee, Associate Professor of the Department of Geography and Project Co-Investigator, said JC-WISE is the first large-scale project to promote the Water Footprint concept and the multiple values of freshwater in the community.  A Water Footprint Calculator – the first of its kind in Hong Kong – will be developed on mobile and online platforms for calculating water footprints of popular local food items. The project will also offer a GIS-based database with open access to public and guided field-trips to reconnect the community with rivers and river basins in Hong Kong.

 

International study reveals 82% of core ecological processes compromised by climate change

An international study led by University of Florida, with participation from the HKU School of Biological Science, revealed that 82% of the 94 identified ecological processes have been compromised by climate change. Land, freshwater and marine ecosystems and species have all been all affected, and consequential impacts on people could range from increased pests and disease outbreaks, to unpredictable changes in fisheries and decreasing agriculture yields. Co-author Professor David Dudgeon, Director of the School of Biological Sciences, warned that local species like paradise fish, short-legged toad and Hong Kong newt are at risk as habitats shrink. The research team hopes the research could steer governments in the right direction and deliver the message that climate change is not just a projection and that the effects on ecological processes are already happening. The study was published in the prestigious journal Science.

 

HKU 'Youth Quitline' helps a quarter of participants quit smoking

Since its establishment in 2005, “Youth Quitline” has helped nearly a quarter of the participants quit smoking at the six-month follow-up and helped 11.5% of those who did not quit smoking reduce cigarette consumption.

 

Disaster-Prone Academic Helps Others to Heal

By both fate and design, Dr Christian Chan of the Department of Psychology has found himself in the wake of natural disasters, observing and helping communities cope with the psychological after-effects.

 

It Takes a Village

A team that encompasses local residents, academia and the private sector has joined forces to embark on a long-term programme to develop a blueprint for the revitalisation of villages and rural communities in Hong Kong in ways that are both innovative and sustainable.

 

Fighting on all Fronts

Psychosocial intervention programmes provide vital support in fighting some of life's biggest battles.

 

A Pioneer for Healthcare Reform in China

The HKU-Shenzhen Hospital was conceived as a model for modernising the management of the Mainland public hospital system. Five years since its establishment, the Hospital is well on its way to fulfilling its mission.

 

Balancing Act

Balance impairment among the elderly often leads to serious issues such as falls, broken bones, and long convalescences in hospital. A new initiative of the School of Public Health hopes to improve the situation through dancing.

 

Centre for Genomic Sciences and Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy organise public lecture series "Genomic Medicine II: Precision Medicine"

The Centre for Genomic Sciences and the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy of the HKU Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine are organizing a series of six public lectures, "Genomic Medicine II: Precision Medicine", to enhance people's awareness, knowledge and interest on genomic medicine in Hong Kong. It will introduce the background of genomic medicine, the latest information and application of genomic medicines in various clinical conditions. The first lecture, "The 'Good' and 'Bad' Cholesterol" will be held on November 12.

 

Four HKU teams win in Cyberport University Partnership Programme 2016

The Cyberport University Partnership Programme (CUPP) is a FinTech-focused entrepreneurship programme launched in 2015 by Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited. This year, 20 student teams were selected from six universities in Hong Kong to join a 1-week long startup bootcamp at Stanford University Graduate School of Business (GSB) in September. They pitched their FinTech ideas at the final held on October 27 to compete for ten HK$100,000 awards from the Cyberport Creative Micro Fund. All four HKU teams won in the final.

 

Knowledge Exchange Awards 2016

The annual Faculty Knowledge Exchange (KE) Awards 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. The KE Award (Non-Faculty Unit) was introduced with the same objective for the independent centres, institutes and units of the University. Results of the 2016 KE Awards are now available.

 

HKU biological scientist Professor Nagendra Shah wins International Dairy Foods Association (USA) award

Professor Nagendra Shah, Professor of Food Science and Technology of the HKU School of Biological Sciences, was earlier named the recipient for the International Dairy Foods Association Research Award in Dairy Foods Processing in 2016 by the American Dairy Science Association. He has made outstanding contributions to the Australian and international dairy industries over the past 35 years. His team has also developed rapid and reliable techniques to detect and quantify pathogens in milk powder. A pioneering work by Professor Shah leading to this award has been on γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) producing lactic acid bacteria. GABA is a non-protein amino acid that has shown anti-hypertensive (blood pressure lowering) effect, but most high GABA producers are bacteria of plant origin, which are not able to grow in milk. Professor Shah's research team has shown that with the help of bacteria native to milk, bacteria of plant origin could synthesize GABA in milk. This groundbreaking work has great commercial significance in developing dairy foods with GABA for anti-hypertensive activity.

 

HKU "Lung Cancer Fighter Programme" for lung cancer patients and caregivers launches second phase recruitment

HKU Department of Social Work and Social Administration and the Hong Kong Cancer Fund launched the first phase "Lung Cancer Fighter Programme" in April. Ninety-seven pairs of lung cancer patients and family caregivers were recruited to participate in an eight-session psychosocial intervention course. Before taking the course, about 50% of both the patients and family caregivers were at-risk of developing anxiety and depression problems. After the course, over 80% of the patients reported improvement in general vitality and daily functioning, and nearly 80% of the caregivers and 70% of the patients experienced improvements in their overall quality of life. One-third of patients and more than a quarter of caregivers who were at-risk have fallen below the clinical cut off in mental health functioning. The organisers are recruiting participants for the second phase.

 

HKU chemists achieve breakthrough in antibacterial drug development

Dr Li Xuechen of the HKU Department of Chemistry and his research team, together with collaborators in the University of Central Florida and PolyU, reported in Nature Communications their studies on the synthesis of a newly discovered antibiotic Teixobactin, which can kill a range of pathogens without detectable resistance. The discovery underlies potential application and development of the next-generation teixobactin-based antibacterial drugs. The team was one of the fastest groups in the world to complete the chemical synthesis of teixobactin, from which they have also generated 10 teixobactin analogues with US provisional patent filed.

 

HKU disseminates findings on "Swallowing difficulties in visually impaired elderly population"

From December 2015 to June 2016, the research team of the HKU Swallowing Research Laboratory of the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences and The Hong Kong Society for the Blind (HKSB) Residential Services visited 4 branches of the HKSB Residential Services for the elderly. Out of a total of 398 residents in the four nursing homes, 61% of the residents were documented to have some level of swallowing difficulties. In terms of mealtime assistance, 70% of the residents required special food processing and 24% of the elderly required assistance with feeding during mealtimes. The research team conducted face-to-face clinical assessments with 109 elderly residents to further investigate the nature of their swallowing difficulties. Over 60% of the elderly with swallowing difficulties were not aware of their swallowing problems. The team recommends that additional care should be taken when looking after elderly people who are at high risk for swallowing difficulties, and regular education for the elderly and their carers be provided to increase their awareness in swallowing difficulties and the consequences.

 

HKU Phase 1 Clinical Trials Centre receives clinical drug trial accreditation by the China Food and Drug Administration

The HKU Phase 1 Clinical Trials Centre, together with seven clinical specialties of Queen Mary Hospital, received official accreditation by the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) for conducting clinical drug trials. The HKU centre is a clinical research facility of the HKU Clinical Trials Centre (HKU-CTC), specifically designed for performing phase 1, early phase and clinical pharmacology trials. This accreditation signifies that research data and results arising from clinical trials conducted in the centre and the seven clinical specialties will be accepted by the CFDA for evaluation of applications for drug registration in Mainland China, strengthening Hong Kong's special position as a hub for drug research and development in China and worldwide.

 

New ant species Paratopula bauhinia (Golden Tree Ant) described and named by HKU biologists

The Insect Biodiversity and Biogeography research group led by Dr Benoit Guénard at the HKU School of Biological Sciences has described and named a new species of ant from Hong Kong, Paratopula bauhinia, or the rare "Golden Tree Ant", in academic journal "Asian Myrmecology". This new ant species was found just a few hundred meters from HKU campus on the foothill of Lung Fu Shan Country Park during a night field course by Ms Ying Luo, a research assistant with the School of Biological Sciences. The ant is about 7mm long and golden in appearance. The new ant represents the 22nd ant species described from Hong Kong since 1858. The last one was in 2000. Descriptions of earlier species had to be dated back to 1928. 

 

HKU to offer Zika screening to travellers returning from Rio de Janeiro Olympics

Ten public clinics under the Hospital Authority will increase capacity to provide consultation for Hong Kong delegates and travellers returning from Brazil. It is one of the government’s measures to prevent the spread of the Zika virus to Hong Kong when the Olympics and the Paralympics open in Rio de Janeiro. Thousands of Hongkongers - including athletes and supporting staff, tourists and the media - will visit Brazil in the coming two to three months. HKU microbiologist Professor Yuen Kwok-yung warned that around 80% of those infected with the disease could be silent carriers who never show symptoms. The Food and Health Bureau has commissioned HKU Department of Microbiology to conduct tests for the virus for people returning from the Olympics without symptoms but felt worried about the risk of infection. HKU will offer them screening by taking urine and blood samples, with results expected in seven days.

 

HKU study reveals endocrine disruptors in samples of 11 seafood species

HKU Faculty of Science conducted a study on endocrine disruptors including triphenyltin in the environment from 2010 to 2015. Seafood samples collected in local water and bought in wet markets, sea water samples from four marine parks and reserves and nearby wastewater treatment plants, and sea mud and marine animals were tested. Samples of all eleven seafood species originating in HK water tested positive for triphenyltin (TPT). The TPT level found in the sample of flatfish sole exceeded the safety standards. Mussels collected from marine parks also contained a number of endocrine disruptors including estrogen hormones used in contraceptives. According to Dr Kevin Ho, researcher of the HKU Swire Institute of Marine Science, the TPT content in flatfish sole was 3.5 times higher than Taiwan’s, TPT content in shellfish was 120 times that of Korea’s, indicating the seriousness of the water pollution problem here. Associate Dean of Science Professor Kenneth Leung Mei-yee said long term consumption of contaminated seafood could affect human endocrine and immunity systems and cause health problems.

 

Police Force and HKU Department of Computer Science organise Cyber Security Competition 2016

A total of 99 winners of the Cyber Security Competition 2016 were awarded for their participation in conveying the message of cyber security in the Cyber Security Competition 2016 organised by the Police Public Relations Branch and Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau of the Hong Kong Police Force and the HKU Department of Computer Science. The competition drew almost 5,600 participants from primary schools, secondary schools and universities. They participated in activities including online quiz, security defect analysis in a virtual computer system and presentation on topics related to cyber security.

 

A Start-up with Backbone

The Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology has developed new shape-shifting rods that offer a gentler option for correcting curvature of the spine. They now have a viable product and a start-up to support it, OrthoSmart Limited.

 

Edible Roof

Growing your own vegetables makes sense, but in Hong Kong's urban jungle few have gardens. Now the Division of Landscape Architecture has produced a manual for building and operating a productive rooftop garden that it hopes will not only result in people cultivating their own food but will also bring communities together.

 

JC A-Connect study reveals over 90% of autism students in primary and secondary schools have adjustment problems

Supported by the JC A-Connect: Jockey Club Autism Support Network, the HKU Department of Psychology partnered with six non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to investigate how well 2,783 primary and secondary school students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) adapted in schools. The students surveyed accounted for approximately 40% of the students identified with ASD studying in public sector mainstream schools, and this has been the largest ever study in Hong Kong on the support needs of students with ASD in mainstream schools. The research findings revealed over 90% of the students had obvious adjustment problems in social-emotional areas, and more than 80% of the students also had difficulty participating in learning. ASD students showed significant delay in their development of adaptive behaviours at all stages of schooling when compared to same-age peers. In light of the findings, the researchers have suggested that related professional support should be strengthened. 

 

HKU education research reveals "Reading Battle" e-quiz platform effective in motivating students to read

The e-quiz platform "Reading Battle" was released by the HKU Centre for Information Technology in Education in 2014 to motivate primary and kindergarten students to read more by engaging them in e-quizzes about the content and applying various game mechanics (points, e-badges, levels) in its design. More than 5,000 students in over 50 schools/libraries have used the platform. Students from Taiwan, Mainland China and the US also joined the scheme. Principal investigator Dr Samuel Chu said many students have seen their reading abilities improve quickly and easily. The top seven students read and answered about or over 300 books (one read over 400 books) and achieved an average score of 82 - 97 out of 100.

 

Joint effort by HKU Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, Facebook and social service organisations to prevent suicides

The HKJC Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention (CSRP) of HKU, Facebook, Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, Save the Children Hong Kong and the Samaritans jointly released a "Help a Friend" booklet to provide guidance and support to those emotionally distressed. CSRP Director Professor Paul Yip said it would require the whole community’s support to encourage those suffering from distressed to disclose their pain and seek help. According to the latest findings by the Centre on student suicide cases between September 2013 and April 2016, about 30 per cent of the deceased had been diagnosed with psychiatric problems and about 26 per cent had made suicide-related posts online or such searches, but less than 9 per cent of them were known to social services for their problems. A total of 5,000 pamphlets will be distributed in selected schools and street events. An online version is also available at all the partner organisations' websites.

 

HKU Swire Institute of Marine Science presents exhibition "Corals: Our Underwater Living Treasures"

Conservation International Hong Kong, Hong Kong Maritime Museum and HKU Swire Institute of Marine Science (SWIMS) jointly present an exhibition, "Corals: Our Underwater Living Treasures", which will run from June 8 to September 18 at Hong Kong Maritime Museum – Central Pier No. 8. The exhibition aims to educate and inspire the public about the extraordinary wealth of corals in Hong Kong and Asia Pacific region, featuring the science and benefits of, threats to, and solutions facing corals in Hong Kong and the "Coral Triangle" in Southeast Asia. Hong Kong has 84 hard coral species and 26 soft coral species, more than the entire Caribbean Sea. This exhibition will include several samples of coral species. There will also be public lectures by coral experts and family workshops.

 

CUHK and HKU researchers introduce 3D printing technology in complex cardiac surgery procedures

Researchers from the CUHK Division of Cardiology of the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics and the HKU Department of Mechanical Engineering collaborated to use echocardiographic data to create soft silicone-based models of complex cardiac structures using 3D printing. The project is the first in Hong Kong to introduce three-dimensional (3D) printing technology to complex cardiac procedures for enhancing procedural efficacy and safety. The models allow cardiologists to personalise planning for cardiovascular intervention for each patient. The practice was applied to a complex case of Left Atrial Appendage (LAA) occlusion in 2015 and the patient is now in good condition.

 

HKU Faculty of Engineering holds "Invention for Schools Contest" award presentation ceremony

Over a hundred students from primary two to secondary five joined the "Invention for Schools Contest" organised by the HKU Faculty of Engineering. The participating teams were required to use credit card-sized computers to make inventions that could be turned into useful applications in their schools. Pok Oi Hospital 80th Anniversary Tang Ying Hei College's "queue jumper revealer" was the champion of the secondary school category, and Yaumati Catholic Primary School (Hoi Wang Road)'s "e-Helper" won the champion and the Most Practical Invention for School Award in the primary school category.

 

Christie’s Education Hong Kong and HKU Faculty of Arts jointly launch Contemporary Asian Art seminar programme

HKU Faculty of Arts and Christie's Education Hong Kong will launch a five-day seminar programme titled Contemporary Asian Art: An Insider’s View from July 6 to 10, 2016. The programme combines art seminars with visits to various places including artists' studios, galleries, Christie's and museums, and conversations with art professionals, focusing on modern and contemporary art in Asia, in particular China, Japan and India. The art historical portion of the programme will be delivered by HKU Fine Arts Department, while the market-related portion by Christie's Education. Former Chief Secretary for Administration Mr Henry Tang will be a speaker of the programme.

 

British Airways' HK80 Heritage Exhibition at HKU

The HKU Department of Sociology collaborated with British Airways (BA) to launch a heritage exhibition at MC3@702 Creative Space, The Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus from now to June 30 to showcase the company's 80 years of history of flying to Hong Kong. Visitors can get a close-up look at the historical artefacts, including vintage cabin crew uniforms, inflight menu and promotional posters used on the route decades ago. Postgraduate students of Sociology also worked with the British Airways' Heritage Centre curators in the UK to interview the airline's loyal customers and long serving staff members about their experience and memories of the airline over the years.

 

Two HKU departments offer first self-help stress release programme for women receiving test tube baby treatment

The HKU Department of Social Work and Social Administration and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology conducted a longitudinal study from 2013 to 2015 on 151 women who received In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF, or so called "test tube baby") treatment but failed. According to the findings, 39.1% of patients reported symptoms of anxiety immediately after the failed treatment and 18.6% of patients reported symptoms of depression. Their depression and anxiety levels remained in the subsequent months. To help women undergoing the treatment to better cope with the stress in the process, the two departments have offered a "Body-Mind Wellness Intervention Program", which consists of a three-hour workshop and a set of self-help body-mind techniques for stress release. The pilot programme conducted since October 2015 has demonstrated good results with significant decrease in the anxiety level of participants in the treatment group during post-embryo-implantation period.

 

HKU Engineering award-winning solar car ready for public exhibitions

HKU solar car team - Helios, won the Overall Champion Award and Innovative Design award of the "New Energy New Generation" Solar Car Competition held by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) earlier.  The first public exhibition to show the abilities of the solar car will be held during the annual JUPAS Info Week on May 10, 2016. It will then be showcased in primary and secondary schools starting from July. Helios won the competition with its extensive application of principles of engineering mechanics in its design and the high precision in the machining of the parts and components. It was also able to strike a good balance between energy capture from the solar irradiation and energy consumption during running.

 

HKU develops novel probiotic mixture "Prohep" that may offer potential therapeutic effects on liver cancer

A research team led by Dr Hani El-Nezami and Dr Gianni Panagiotou of the HKU School of Biological Sciences, in collaboration with the HKU Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine and the School of Medicine, University of Eastern Finland, develops a novel probiotic mixture "Prohep" that may have potential therapeutic effects on Hepatocellular carcinoma. The research team found that Prohep, when tested on mice, could slow down the tumor growth significantly and reduce the tumor size and weight. Future research would be to find out how to consume the probiotic mixture to obtain the best results, and to develop more efficient bacterial cocktails. The commercialization of Prohep is being assisted by the HKU Technology Transfer Office and Versitech Limited.

 

Jockey Club Charities Trust and HKU School of Public Health announce "Family Day 2016" activities

"Family Day 2016" aims at encouraging Hong Kong people to spend more quality time with their family members so as to enhance family harmony and relationship. A series of events will be held from April 22 to June 5 under three themes, namely "Family Day @ Community", "Family Day - Shopping Fun", and "Active Families Sing for Family Day 2016 Fun Fair".

 

HKU Kadoorie Institute launches "Living Water & Community Revitalisation – An Agricultural-led Action, Engagement and Incubation Programme at Lai Chi Wo"

The HKU Kadoorie Institute will officially launch the "Living Water & Community Revitalisation - An Agricultural-led Action, Engagement and Incubation Programme at Lai Chi Wo" on April 30, 2016. The project is a multi-year rural community development and revitalisation programme which promotes sustainable rural development through farming revitalisation, traditional village conservation, education programmes and scientific research. The aim of the programme is to revive the appearance and activities of the traditional Hakka village Lai Chi Wo as much as possible.

 

HKU scientists effectively suppress tumour growth by converting Salmonella into YB1 anaerobe bacterium

Researchers at the HKU School of Biomedical Sciences have recently engineered Salmonella into an anaerobe bacterium named YB1 that can only survive and thrive in the hypoxic condition, for example, hypoxic regions inside solid tumours. YB1 can effectively inhibit the growth of tumours while being safe to normal tissues. The patent applications for this invention have been filed in different countries through the Technology Transfer Office of HKU. A patent was recently granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The researchers hope that YB1 can be further developed into a tumour-targeting agent in the near future.

 

HKU Stephen Hui Geological Museum exhibits fossils from the world famous Jurassic Solnhofen Limestone in Germany

The HKU Stephen Hui Geological Museum launches a two-month exhibition on "Snapshots of a Vanished Environment - Exceptional Fossils from the world famous Jurassic Solnhofen Limestone in Germany" on Earth Day (April 22, 2016), which will run until June 23, 2016. One of the world’s most famous fossil Lagerstaette is the Jurassic Solnhofen Limestone in Germany, which came to fame with the discovery of a number of complete Archaeopteryx fossils. The exhibition presents 11 rare and exceptionally preserved fossil animals from the 150 million-year-old Solnhofen Limestone, some up to 90 centimetres in diameter.

 

HKU Computer Scientist Dr Cui Heming receives Croucher Innovation Award 2016

Dr Cui Heming, Assistant Professor of the HKU Department of Computer Science, received the Croucher Innovation Award 2016. Dr Cui's recent research has led to several U.S. patents, open source projects, and publication in premier systems software and programming languages conferences. His previous systems have led to several new security errors detected in real-world software. His awarded project focuses on building practical software systems to greatly improve the reliability of today’s general online services. Although this project has started for only one year, a preliminary system built by Dr Cui and his collaborators has been published in the Symposium on Operating Systems Principles (SOSP) 2015, the world’s best software system conference in year 2015. All the source code and evaluation results of this system are publicly available for industrial deployment.

 

HKU develops "Comfy Acupressure for the Elderly" to improve the quality of life for the elderly

A recent clinical study conducted by the HKU School of Chinese Medicine in collaboration with Yan Chai Hospital Social Services Department (YCHSS) revealed that "Comfy Acupressure for the Elderly" can effectively improve the quality of life of frail elderly and reduce the strain of their caregivers.  This 12-step acupressure protocol was developed on the basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine theory and practice. As it is easy to learn and apply in daily life, HKU and YCHSS are planning to further promote it in the community in order to benefit the frail elderly as well as their caregivers.

 

HKU researchers call for citywide environmentally-friendly rainwater drainage

HKU Civil Engineering Assistant Professor Dr May Chui Ting-fong has conducted a feasibility study on the application of sustainable stormwater drainage systems (SuDS) in Hong Kong, funded by the Central Policy Unit's Public Policy Research Funding Scheme. SuDS features include bioretention systems, green roofs and porous pavements. These features, when built over a wide area, can retain and slowly release water, reducing peak flows into the drainage system. The findings suggest that using 5 to 10% of space installing the SuDS features could provide more effective stormwater control.  Dr Chui said Hong Kong has been falling behind developed nations in adopting SuDS features and urges the government to adopt a drainage system that addresses the city's environmental needs, such as green rooftops that can absorb water as well as porous pavements.

 

HKU marine ecologist and wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC reveal widespread illegal and unreported Humphead Wrasse trade into and through HK

A study by TRAFFIC and Professor Yvonne Sadovy of HKU School of Biological Sciences revealed widespread illegal and unreported trade of the endangered and highly valued reef fish, the Humphead Wrasse (HHW, So Mei in Cantonese, also known as the Napoleon fish) in Hong Kong and the possible illegal trade in Mainland China. Thousands of this fish were seen in local and Mainland markets, and being sold in high-end luxury restaurants, of which only a few hundred were likely to have been legally imported over the last 15 months. Professor Sadovy said the situation calls for urgent action by the Hong Kong government to ensure that imports and sales are legal, and that existing regulations are complied with by importers and traders. The intensity and frequency of inspections of facilities trading the species should be increased. 

 

HKU researchers urge more physical activities in schoolsto improve children's mental health

Dr Robin Mellecker, Honorary Assistant Professor of the HKU Institute of Human Performance, and Dr Frances Law, Associate Director of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention of HKU, urge schools to allow more time for children to engage in physical activities, which will help them grow up physically and mentally healthy.

 

HKU and PolyU develop world’s first internally motorised minimally invasive surgical robotic system for single incision or natural orifice (incision-less) robotic surgery

To minimize surgical trauma and improve the safety of current robotic surgery, an innovative project to develop a novel surgical robotic system (NSRS) with haptic (tactile) feedback and capable of single incision or natural orifice (incision-less) robotic surgery has been initiated by Professor Yeung Chung-Kwong, Honorary Clinical Professor of the HKU Department of Surgery. A team of experienced engineers led by Professor Yung Kai-Leung of PolyU's Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering was invited to join the project team as an engineering partner in 2012. The team has made the breakthrough possible recently. A NSRS with surgical robotic arms that are driven by internal micro-motors and capable of up to 10 degrees of freedom in movement has been developed and successfully utilised in three consecutive animal surgical experiments. This innovative project is funded by NISI (HK) Limited, a company specializing in non-invasive surgical innovations, and supported by the Innovation and Technology Commission of the Hong Kong SAR Government.

 

HKU Department of Social Work and Social Administration and the Hong Kong Cancer Fund offer first "Lung Cancer Fighter Course" for patients and family caregivers

The research team of Department of Social Work and Social Administration at HKU and the Hong Kong Cancer Fund collaborated to offer the "Lung Cancer Fighter Course to provide psychosocial interventions for lung cancer patients and their family caregivers, with an aim to enhance the quality of life in their journey fighting cancer. Previous studies conducted by the research team have shown that the physical and mental health of patients and their family caregivers, such as anxiety, depression, and sleep quality, interact and reinforce each other. The "Lung cancer fighter course" is the first psychosocial interventions programme designed specifically for lung cancer patients and their family caregivers. The 8-section course, which will run from April to June, includes medical information, tips on coping with cancer treatment, the mind-body connection, stress management, mindfulness practices, information sharing on diet and coping with side effects of treatments, communication with health care professionals and among family members.

 

The Council on Smoking and Health, HKU and HKBU researchers call for complete ban of e-cigarettes

The Council on Smoking and Health (COSH) commissioned Baptist University to carry out a laboratory test on the components of thirteen e-cigarettes in the market from October 2015 to February 2016. The test confirmed that e-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals including carcinogens that are hazardous to health. COSH had earlier commissioned the HKU School of Public Health and Public Opinion Programme to conduct respectively the Tobacco Control Policy-related Survey and an opinion survey to interview over 5,000 respondents to monitor the prevalence of e-cigarette use and measure public opinion on its ban in Hong Kong. It was found that 68% of users did not know what they inhaled. Although only 0.2% of respondents had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, the rate (7.9%) among young current smokers aged 15 to 29 years was significantly higher than that of current smokers aged 30 years or above. The majority of respondents supported various regulatory measures on e-cigarettes. The Government is urged to enact total ban on e-cigarettes promptly to prevent its epidemic and stop it from becoming the gateway to youth smoking in Hong Kong.

 

HKU Faculty of Medicine publishes free book on rare bone disorders

The HKU Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, in collaboration with NGO Little People of Hong Kong, has published 3,000 copies of "Understanding Rare Bone Disorders" for primary and secondary schools and hospitals in Hong Kong. They hope to raise awareness of skeletal dysplasia through educating the public of patients' needs. Assistant Dean Professor Danny Chan said patients have been facing a lot of discrimination in Hong Kong and that it is hard to change the views of the older generation. He hopes teachers could use the book to educate the new generation and change their perceptions.

 

HKU reports findings of school-based smoking survey

The HKU School of Public Health was commissioned by the Food and Health Bureau to conduct a school-based smoking survey among Hong Kong primary 4-6 and secondary 1-6 school students from October 2014 to April 2015 to investigate the prevalence and pattern of smoking among primary and secondary school students. Data were collected from 15,658 primary school students in 80 primary schools and 40,202 secondary school students in 93 secondary schools. According to the findings, 2.8% of the primary school students had ever smoked and 0.2% are current smokers. The current smoking prevalence among secondary school students (2.7%) was lower than that in 2012-13 (3.0%). The smoking habit of e-cigarettes was also surveyed. Among the respondents, 2.6% and 9% of the primary and secondary school students respectively had smoked e-cigarettes, and 1.3% of the secondary school students surveyed are currently e-cigarette users. The Government is considering legislation seeking to ban e-cigarettes import, manufacture, sale, distribution and advertising.

 

Knowledge Exchange (KE) Excellence Award 2015

HKU has recently launched the university-level KE Excellence Award, and it goes to the team at the Faculty of Dentistry.

 

KE in The Review 2015

The Review 2015 looks back at another fruitful year for knowledge exchange developments and our researchers' strong efforts in translating knowledge and discovery into impact. "Our ultimate goal is to achieve the greatest societal benefits from our teaching and research, and in this respect HKU has been a leader in Hong Kong. We have been building capacity and developing strategies that take our know-how from the campus to the community through technology transfer, entrepreneurship and knowledge exchange," says Professor Peter Mathieson, President and Vice-Chancellor.