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15 Apr 2021

CUHK Receives Four Ministry of Education Higher Education Outstanding Scientific Research Output Awards

15 Apr 2021
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(From left) Professor Joseph SUNG, Professor Siew Chien NG and Professor Francis KL CHAN

Professor Tong Shu Kam MOK

Professor HUANG Bo

Professor LAI Chi Tim

Three scientific research projects conducted by researchers of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) have received Higher Education Outstanding Scientific Research Output Awards (Science and Technology) 2020 from the Ministry of Education, including a first-class and two second-class awards in natural sciences. Another research project has also received a second-class thesis award for religious studies at the 8th Round Higher Education Outstanding Scientific Research Output Awards (Humanities and Social Sciences).

Professor Rocky S. Tuan, Vice-Chancellor and President of CUHK said, “I am delighted to learn of the announcement by the Ministry of Education (MOE) that four research projects at CUHK have received the MOE Higher Education Outstanding Scientific Research Output Awards. We are grateful to the MOE for the high-level acknowledgement of the excellence of scientific research at CUHK, and the official recognition of the accomplishments of CUHK scientists and investigators. I sincerely congratulate all members of the research teams, and extend my deep appreciation for their hard work and dedication to scientific discovery and research excellence. Their contributions bring distinction to the University and will no doubt stimulate the continued search for excellence and talent development at CUHK, to bring about scientific and technological innovations that will positively impact the welfare of the society.”

Here is a summary of the CUHK award-winning projects in 2020:

First-class award in Natural Sciences

  • Professor Siew Chien NG, Department of Medicine and Therapeutics at the Faculty of Medicine, Professor Francis KL CHAN, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Choh-Ming Li Professor of Medicine and Therapeutics, and Professor Joseph SUNG, CUHK Emeritus Professor of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine — Integrative Research on Epidemiology, Pathogenesis and Therapeutics in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, are chronic, relapsing inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. There were over 6.8 million cases of IBD worldwide in the past three decades. It mostly affects the young, imposes health and economic burdens on patients, and substantially reduces their quality of life. Previously a “western” disease, there was little awareness of the growing epidemic of IBD in Asia. In less than a decade, the team led by Professor Siew Ng, Professor Francis Chan and Professor Joseph Sung has achieved a number of breakthroughs in our understanding of the epidemiology, natural history, genetics and environmental risks of IBD, and provided a basis for improvement in disease diagnosis and clinical care of IBD. They brought together over 20 countries and 30 centres in Asia-Pacific to study IBD, resulting in practice changing landmark publications and a paradigm shift in regional public health. Their work has been highly appraised by high-impact scientific journals and reported by Nature, Nature Outlook and Environmental Health Perspective magazines. Their recent discoveries on environmental triggers and putative bacteria species in IBD pathogenesis have laid a solid foundation for future innovations to uncover the aetiology of disease for prevention.

Second-class award in Natural Sciences

  • Professor Tony Shu Kam MOK, Chairman of the Department of Clinical Oncology and Li Shu Fan Medical Foundation Professor of Clinical Oncology, Faculty of Medicine — Optimising the Survival of Patients with Advanced Lung Cancer

Professor Tony Mok’s studies have made a huge impact on lung cancer treatment and significantly increased the survival rate of advanced lung cancer patients. He has been named as a Highly Cited Researchers for three consecutive years since 2018.

Almost all patients on targeted therapy would eventually develop resistance. Managing the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) resistance, Professor Tony Mok designed and led several international trials and collaborated with many clinical trial centres in different countries. These discoveries have contributed to the current standard of practice and improved the survival of lung cancer patients. The treatment of EGFR TKI resistance was revolutionised. 

Professor Mok and the team increased lung cancer patients’ overall survival rate by targeted therapies. For those patients with EGFR mutation, treatment with the 3rd generation EGFR TKI Osimertinib prolonged survival. For those advanced non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) patients with anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) translocation, five years’ survival rose to above 60% from the current 10%.

  • Professor HUANG Bo, Department of Geography and Resource Management, Faculty of Social Science, CUHK, Professor Wu Bo, Fuzhou University, Professor Song Chunqiao, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Professor Song Huihui, Nanjing University of Information Engineering, and Cai Jixuan, Tencent Inc. — Theory and methodology for spatiotemporal multi-scale data fusion

Location, time, and scale are the fundamental properties of geographic data. Modeling the data heterogeneity with respect to these three properties is extremely challenging. Professor Huang Bo and his former postdoctoral research fellow and PhD students, including Professor Wu Bo, Professor Song Chunqiao, Professor Song Huihui and Dr. Cai Jixuan, have formulated a holistic theoretical framework and developed a suite of models and algorithms on spatiotemporal data regression and multiresolution spatiotemporal data fusion, which are documented in several Essential Science Indicators (ESI) highly cited papers. Among them, the geographically and temporally weighted regression (GTWR) model has become one of the most representative in spatiotemporal data analytics. The first GTWR paper authored by Professor Huang Bo and Professor Wu Bo is also listed as one of the top five most cited among all the articles that have ever been published in the International Journal of Geographic Information Science, the most prestigious journal in geographic data science. The spatiotemporal data fusion models overcome the bottleneck of current satellite remote sensing technologies that have to compromise between spatial and temporal resolution, manifesting a breakthrough in earth observation from space. Both GTWR and the spatiotemporal fusion models have been applied in a wide range of areas, including environment, geography, hydrology, ecology, urban planning and smart cities, and adopted by industry.

Second-class thesis award for Religious Studies

  • Professor LAI Chi Tim, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts — Cultivating the Mind and Refining the Inner Nature: Lüzu’s Commentary on the “True Scripture of the Marvelous Wonder for the Supreme Mysterious Merit”(in Chinese)

Lüzu shujie Wushang xuangong lingmiao zhenjing 呂祖疏解無上玄功靈妙真經 (Lüzu’s Commentary on the “True Scripture of the Marvelous Wonder for the Supreme Mysterious Merit”) is a Qing-dynasty scripture that deals with the Daoist ways of cultivating the mind and refining the inner nature. According to its text, the Dipper Mother 斗姥元君 and Lüzu 呂祖descended and transmitted this scripture to the Jueyuan Altar 覺源壇, a spirit-writing altar in Beijing that mainly worshipped Lüzu, between the third and the eighth year of the Jiaqing 嘉慶 reign (i.e., 1798-1803).

This book is a unique Daoist scripture written in plain and simple words, which makes it stand out from former abstruse texts on Daoist alchemy. It emphasizes the noble spirit with which human beings are born, but this spirit is often clouded by all sorts of desires they breed in the mundane world. The scripture states that human beings can nevertheless restore their marvelous innate spirit through self-cultivation, and it points out various Daoist manoeuvers in cultivating the mind and refining the inner nature so as to understand mysterious subtleties thoroughly.

Based on an edition of the Daozang jiyao (compiled in the Jiaqing period of the Qing dynasty) now stored in the Institute for Research in Humanities at Kyoto University, Japan, Professor Lai Chi Tim annotated and rendered the book from classical Chinese to the modern vernacular style. It is expected that the book will offer the readers some principles for cultivating the mind and seeking peace and quiet in human societies now overwhelmed by materialism, disharmony, conflicts and disputes among different social classes, races and religions.

About Higher Education Outstanding Scientific Research Output Awards

The Higher Education Outstanding Scientific Research Output Awards (Science and Technology) is set up by the MOE to recognise outstanding research projects at all tertiary institutions in mainland China. Since 2009, Hong Kong’s tertiary institutions have been included in the scheme. The award is presented to individuals or units who have made remarkable contributions in the areas of scientific discovery, technological innovation, science and technology advancement and implementation of patented technologies. The Natural Science Award honours researchers who have made discoveries in natural science and applied science. The Science and Technology Progress Award honours research achievements in applied technologies of natural science that have made creative contributions, or individuals or units who have made important contributions to the national security.



(From left) Professor Joseph SUNG, Professor Siew Chien NG and Professor Francis KL CHAN

(From left) Professor Joseph SUNG, Professor Siew Chien NG and Professor Francis KL CHAN

 

Professor Tong Shu Kam MOK

Professor Tong Shu Kam MOK

 

Professor HUANG Bo

Professor HUANG Bo

 

Professor LAI Chi Tim

Professor LAI Chi Tim

 

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