CUHK School of Biomedical Sciences Strives to Become the World-leading Biomedical Hub
The School of Biomedical Sciences (the School) of the Faculty of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) will actively promote the development of translational medicine through research areas like ‘Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine’ and devote more resources to nurturing biomedical talents, in alignment with the Government’s strategic development in innovation and technology and to strengthen Hong Kong’s global leadership in the field of biomedical sciences. The School is expecting to play a more proactive role to contribute considerably to the ‘Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area Development’ and the joint development of the ‘Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park’ at the Lok Ma Chau Loop.
Biomedical Sciences as HK’s and CUHK’s Strategic Development Area
‘Biomedical sciences’ has become a trend in global development in recent years. The Committee on Innovation, Technology and Re-industrialisation formed by the HKSAR Government last year has identified ‘biomedical sciences’ as one of the areas where Hong Kong enjoys competitive advantages.
Guided by CUHK’s full commitment to developing ‘biomedical sciences’ as one of the major research areas, the Faculty of Medicine at CUHK officially formed the School of Biomedical Sciences in 2010 through amalgamating four former preclinical departments including Anatomy, Biochemistry (Medicine), Pharmacology and Physiology. Since then, the School has laid a strong foundation and made encouraging progress and achievements in numerous areas, especially in terms of promoting multidisciplinary research, capacity building and talent training.
The 8th Anniversary of the School of Biomedical Sciences and Inauguration of the BSc in Biomedical Sciences Programme ceremony was held on 12 January. Officiating guests included Prof. Lap-Chee TSUI, Founding President of The Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong; Prof. Rocky S. TUAN, Vice-Chancellor and President of CUHK; Prof. Francis Ka Leung CHAN, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at CUHK; and Prof. Wai-Yee CHAN, Professor of Biomedical Sciences and Director of the School of Biomedical Sciences of the Faculty of Medicine at CUHK. Members of the School reviewed the past and looked forward to the future, at the ceremony.
Prof. Lap-Chee TSUI remarked, ‘We are in the century of biomedical science. It not only enhances our understanding of human health and diseases, but is also the foundation of the future development and prosperity of our society. Academic institutions engaging in the related fields of studies must do more than just high quality research; they must engage in the training of the next generation of researchers, particularly physician-scientists, and in translating scientific knowledge into applications. I think it was with tremendous foresight that CUHK launched the School of Biomedical Sciences eight years ago. Building on the solid development, the School has produced the talent and research environment required to build a world-leading biomedical hub and bring Hong Kong to another level of excellence.’
Prof. Rocky S. TUAN said, ‘As put down in the current CUHK 5-year Strategic Plan, “cutting-edge discovery with global impact and societal contributions” is identified as the core vision in “Research”. To achieve this strategic objective, on the one hand, the School of Biomedical Sciences promotes cutting-edge research through the introduction of innovative technologies, and on the other hand, it facilitates translational research by providing platforms that will enhance interdisciplinary collaboration among basic science investigators and clinicians. The School will continue to play a leading and indispensable role, particularly in the promotion of “Translational Medicine” through research areas like “Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine” and “Brain and Mind”, to carry out new scientific research projects and transformation technology.’
Tremendous progress has been made in terms of research output and quality for the School of Biomedical Sciences of CUHK in recent years. Since its establishment, the amount of research funding has increased by 200%. Overall, in the past two years, there were five research projects led by scholars from the School receiving HK$ 33 million from the Collaborative Research Fund of the Research Grants Council. The School has also identified several impact research cases and the number of papers published in high impact international journals such as Nature has also been on the rise.
Biomedical Undergraduate Programme with First-of-its-kind Features in HK
Talent development has always been one of the top priorities of the School. With excellent track records in undergraduate teaching and postgraduate training, the School is in a position of strength to train students with a broad-based and strong foundation in biomedical sciences for local, regional and international research, and specialists in health system policy and management.
The successful launch of the Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences Programme in 2016 not only further enriched the education spectrum of the School, but also helped fulfill its mission of nurturing the next generation of basic researchers and physician-scientists in Hong Kong, mainland China, Asia and around the world.
Prof. Wai-Yee CHAN, the School Director elaborated, ‘Our Programme differentiates itself from other local biomedical sciences programmes by having the major electives arranged into three specific concentration areas, namely “Biomedical Research”, “Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship” and “Health Services and Consultation”, supplemented by relevant experiential learning activities. Such a unique range of courses is the first-of-its-kind in Hong Kong to be included in a biomedical science‐based undergraduate programme which offers a range of options to students who are interested in research, health policy and pharmaceutical manufacturing management, and healthcare services. This programme will better equip them for their aspiration.’
As far as academic outreach is concerned, the School has built up extensive networks with overseas and mainland institutions, through establishing joint laboratories with a few of them under the approval of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Education, China, through organising joint conferences and meetings as well as reciprocal visits, and by arranging exchange and training programmes for staff and students.
In the future, the School will further strengthen its regional and international outreach efforts, for example, through deepening the ties with the participating institutions from Southeast Asia under the current collaborative framework on ASIA-International Biomedical Sciences Consortium.
Thrive to Become the World-leading Biomedical Hub
Looking ahead, the School will increase the linkage with industry, particularly with the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, and participate actively in the development of biomedical sciences-related initiatives to be carried out by the HKSAR Government in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area.
‘Capitalising on our existing strengths and the developmental outlook, the School of Biomedical Sciences will further thrive and become one of the world-leading biomedical hubs, that commits to high-impact, collaborative and translational research as well as first-class training of biomedical talents,’ Prof. Wai-Yee CHAN concluded.