28 March 2007

Three CUHK Scholars Named Croucher Senior Research Fellow 2007-2008



Three top research academics from The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) were presented the prestigious Senior Research Fellowships of The Croucher Foundation today (28 March), in recognition of their outstanding scientific achievements in the international scientific community. They are Professor Hsiao Chang CHAN of the Department of Physiology and Professor Emily CHING Shuk Chi of the Department of Physics. Professor Francis Ka-leung CHAN of the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics was awarded the Medical Research Fellowships.

The awards were presented by Professor YANG Chen Ning, Nobel Laureate in Physics and Distinguished Professor-at-Large of CUHK.

The Croucher Senior Research Fellowships scheme was first introduced in 1997/98 academic year. The value of each Senior Research Fellowship is about US$100,000. It is awarded to local academics who have excelled in scientific research work. In recognition of their success and to encourage their further achievement in their given fields, funds will be awarded to the universities in which they are employed. This enables the University to recruit an academic to take over the award winner’s duties for the period of the fellowship. The fellow will then be relieved from teaching tasks from six months to one year and in turn can devote more time and effort to research work. Each winner will also receive a cash award of HK$40,000.

A total of 15 Scholars from CUHK have been awarded the Croucher Senior Research Fellowship since its inception, they are: Professor Henry WONG Nai Ching, Professor WU Chi, Professor XIE Zuo Wei and Professor CHOW Hak Fun of Chemistry, Professor Raymond YEUNG Wai Ho of Information Engineering, Professor ZHOU Xunyu of Systems Engineering and Engineering Management, Professor WEI Juncheng of Mathematics, Professor XIA Keqing and Professor Emily CHING Shuk Chi of Physics, Professor HUANG Jie of Automation and Computer-Aided Engineering, and Professor CHAN Hsiao Chang of Physiology. Four Scholars have been awarded Croucher Senior Medical Research Fellowship which include Professor Jean WOO, Professor Joseph SUNG and Professor Francis Ka-leung CHAN of Medicine and Therapeutics, and Professor Dennis Yuk Ming LO of Chemical Pathology.

Professor Hsiao Chang Chan is Professor of Physiology and Director of Epithelial Cell Biology Research Centre at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Professor Chan is a leading authority in epithelial cell-related multidisciplinary research and has contributed significantly to a number of important discoveries, including a cell shrinkage-activated cation channel (Science, 1992), a novel defensin molecule in the epididymis for sperm maturation (Science, 2001, Nature Cell Biology, 2004) and the role of CFTR in fertility and infertility (Nature Cell Biology, 2003). These discoveries not only shed lights into the understanding of how epithelial secretions affect our body functions, reproduction in particular, but also provide leads to the development of new strategies for diagnosis and treatment of infertility as well as for contraception.

She has received a number of prestigious awards including National Natural Sciences Award of China in 1997 and Distinguished Young Investigator Award by the National Natural Science Foundation of China in 2000.

Professor Chan obtained her B.S. degree in Bioengineering (1983) and Ph.D. degree in Biophysics (1988) from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She worked at the University of Chicago as a postdoctoral fellow before she took up a faculty position as Assistant Professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1993. She was promoted to Professor of Physiology in 2006. She sits on numerous editorial boards and also holds visiting professorship at over 14 universities or institutes in Mainland China. Professor Chan has also been invited to review grants for a number of funding agencies worldwide, including WHO, Wellcome Trust (UK), German Cystic Fibrosis Association, Italian Telethon Foundation, National Natural Science Foundation of China, National Science Foundation (USA).

Professor Francis Chan is Professor of Medicine and Therapeutics at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and an honorary consultant physician at the Prince of Wales Hospital (PWH).

Professor Chan was an honors graduate of CUHK in 1988 and was awarded a medical doctorate from the same University in 1998. Following his fellowship training, he obtained the Croucher Foundation Fellowship to study experimental liver transplantation in the University of Calgary in Canada in 1993. He served as a Senior Medical Officer at PWH in 1995. Professor Chan joined CUHK as a lecturer of the Faculty of Medicine in 1997 while working concurrently as a full-time gastroenterologist and endoscopist at PWH. He became Professor of Medicine and Therapeutics in 2005. An outstanding teacher, Professor Chan was bestowed a number of teaching awards including Teacher of the Year Award for five consecutive years from 1999 to 2004, Vice-Chancellor’s Exemplary Teaching Award in 2000, and Master Teacher Award in 2004.

An internationally renowned expert in the management of aspirin use and peptic ulcer bleeding, Professor Chan is the first physician outside the U.S. to be awarded the David Y. Graham Lecturer by the American College of Gastroenterology. In 2005, he was invited by the College to join the Task Force on Understanding Ulcers, NSAIDs and Ulcer Bleeding. A prolific writer, he has authored more than 200 original research papers in top-notch international journals. He became the first in academic history to have published 6 first-authored research papers in the New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet. Professor Chan also serves as an associate editor and sits on the editorial board of a number of international journals.

Professor Chan sits on a number of grant review agencies in Hong Kong including the Health Sciences Panel of the University Grant Council, Medicine & Biology Panel of the Research Grants Council and the Grant Review Board of the Research Council of the Health, Welfare and Food Bureau.

Besides serving the medical profession, Professor Chan also actively participates in community service. He provides voluntary health service to mentally-handicapped children in Saint James Settlement. In 1999, he launched the first bowel cancer screening program to detect early cancer for citizens in the New Territory East district. During the SARS outbreak, Professor Chan organized a large-scale screening test to detect silent SARS infection for over 12,000 Hong Kong citizens.

Professor Emily Ching Shuk Chi is a theoretical physicist, and is currently a professor in the Department of Physics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her general research interests lie in non-equilibrium systems, and particularly on the longstanding problem of fluid turbulence. Recently, one of her research focus is on understanding the intriguing and practically important phenomenon of drag reduction by polymer additives in turbulent flows. When the flow of fluids in channels or pipes changes from laminar to turbulent as speed of the flow is increased, there is a large increase in drag. A major technological challenge is to reduce this drag in order to minimize the energy needed to transport fluids like oil in pipelines, or to move ships in the sea or aeroplanes in the air. It has been known for more than 50 years that the addition of polymers can reduce drag in turbulent flows by a significant amount but a fundamental understanding of the phenomenon remains lacking. By studying the balance of the budgets of energy and momentum, Professor Ching and her collaborators showed that polymers provide an additional channel to dissipative energy, thus reducing turbulent fluctuations, which effectively make the flow more laminar and so the drag is reduced.

Professor Ching obtained her B.Sc. degree in Physics with first class honours from the University of Hong Kong and her M.Phil. degree in Physics from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She then went to the United States to further her studies and received her Ph.D. degree in Physics from the University of Chicago. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara before returning to Hong Kong. She joined the Department of Physics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong as a Lecturer in 1995 and became a Professor in 2001.

Professor Ching’s research work is internationally recognized. She was awarded the Achievement in Asia Award from the Overseas Chinese Physics Association in 1999 “for contributions to the understanding of the complex fluctuations in fluid turbulence”. She was elected the Fellow of the UK Institute of Physics and the American Physical Society in 2004 and 2005 respectively. The citation for her American Physical Society Fellowship reads “For leadership in the analysis of turbulent and chaotic dynamics, and particularly for elucidating the structure of turbulent correlations in turbulent systems”. She also serves in the Editorial board of various journals including the Journal of Turbulence.

Professor Hsiao Chang Chan
Department of Physiology
Professor Hsiao Chang Chan
Department of Physiology

Professor Francis Chan
Department of Medicine and Therapeutics
Professor Francis Chan
Department of Medicine and Therapeutics

Professor Emily Ching
Department of Physics
Professor Emily Ching
Department of Physics