18 July 2011

CUHK–BGI Innovation Institute of Trans-omics Inaugurates Today
A New Global Research and Training Base in Genomic Science



The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and BGI (previously known as Beijing Genomics Institute) – Shenzhen, China collaborate to establish the CUHK–BGI Innovation Institute of Trans-omics (The Innovation Institute).  The inauguration ceremony, officiated by Prof. Liu Yingli, former member of the Standing Committee and Executive Vice-Mayor of Shenzhen Municipal Government, President of Shenzhen Entrepreneur Association and Honorary Fellow of CUHK; Prof. Yang Huanming, Chairman and Professor, BGI; Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung, Vice-Chancellor of CUHK; Mr. Mo Jin-qiang, Deputy Director General of Education, Science and Technology Department of Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR; Ms. Guo Yurong, Secretary of Shenzhen Municipal Education Committee and Director of the Shenzhen Municipal Education Bureau; Prof. Wang Jian, President of BGI; and Prof. Chan Wai-yee, Director of The Innovation Institute, was held today (18 July) on CUHK campus. 

The unparalleled pace of advancement in genomic science during the last two decades was not complemented by the development of talent in the related fields, e.g., computational biology and bioinformatics.  To sustain the growth and to facilitate the translation of genomic research outputs into products and services that benefit humankind, the training of professionals is of prime importance.  CUHK has been making great strides in genomic research and BGI is one of the largest organizations in the world widely recognized for achievements in genomic research and development.  Capitalizing on each other's research strengths in genomic science, CUHK and BGI establish the CUHK–BGI Innovation Institute of Trans-omics to focus on the training of individuals in the areas of genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, clinical genetics, clinical genomics, computational biology and bioinformatics, and facilitation of research in these areas to benefit the biotechnological and pharmaceutical industries. 

Professor Sung said during the inauguration ceremony, 'The Innovation Institute will provide a platform for collaboration between scholars of CUHK and BGI to fully exploit the strengths in science and technology in the two institutions, advancing the application of genomic and proteomic research in clinical medicine.  The Innovation Institute strives to become a world's leading research base and training ground in genomics to bring research development to new heights and benefit mankind.' 

Professor Yang said, 'BGI and CUHK had co-operated on several important projects in the past 3 years, with significant achievements in the scientific research.  The Innovation Institute will provide anexcellent platform for the comprehensive training of trans-omics experts.  With the rapid development of sequencing technology, multi-disciplinary talents are required tofully decode the miracle behind the genetic code from the enormous data output generatedby sequencing.' 

CUHK has been closely collaborating with BGI for years, including the establishment of CUHK–BGI Genome Research Centre in 2009 and the launch of research projects in cancer genome, soybean genome and diabetes. The 'Homecoming of Soybeans' project made major breakthroughs in soybean genomic research and the finding was published as the cover story in Nature Genetics, a leading journal in genetic research.  CUHK and BGI have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Joint Supervision of Postgraduate Students to provide training to postgraduate students.  The CUHK–BGI Innovation Institute of Trans-omics will not only develop basic and advanced education programmes (including Master and PhD programmes) in genomic and proteomic biology, computational biology and bioinformatics, but also enhance research collaboration and facilitate establishment of joint laboratories to meet the needs of expert training, academic research and biotechnology development.  Its establishment will strengthen ties between CUHK and BGI towards long and sustainable collaboration to further explore new research areas and innovative projects. 

CUHK has been expanding its presence in Shenzhen in areas of academic exchange, education and research with long-term strategies in place.  The CUHK Shenzhen Research Institute (SZRI), scheduled for opening this year, will provide a pivotal base for research development, training and technology transfer.  With the support of the Shenzhen Municipal Government, CUHK is planning to establish The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen).  The development of the CUHK–BGI Innovation Institute of Trans-omics will be closely linked with SZRI and the Shenzhen campus to foster the partnership in genomic science and biotechnology between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. 

Research Strengths in Genomic Science at CUHK

There is abundant expertise in genomics, proteomics, clinical genetics, clinical genomics, computation biology and bioinformatics among members of the faculties of Medicine, Science, and Engineering at CUHK.  Besides the established Hong Kong Bioinformatics Centre, there is also the Center for Microbial Genomics and Proteomics and the recently formed Systems Biology Interest Group, which has members from the faculties of Medicine, Science and Engineering at CUHK.  Both the School of Biomedical Sciences and the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health have established bioinformatics core to support investigators working on genomics and proteomics.  The School of Biomedical Sciences has established a new Graduate Division and will offer a self-financed MSc programme in Genomics and Bioinformatics in the coming academic year.  With its solid foundation, CUHK is well positioned to contribute to the development of genomic sciences by proactively training related experts. 

Research Strengths in Genomic Science at BGI

BGI is one of the largest organizations in the world focusing on genomic, proteomic and bioinformatics research and development.  It has accomplished numerous world-class research projects and published a number of landmark papers in genomic sciences, strengthening China's leading position in genomics.  Its campus in Shenzhen houses the largest number of sequencers in Asia and over hundreds of bioinformaticians.  Its new campus in Taipo will house 128 Illumina Hi Seq 2000 Sequencing Systems, so far known to be the largest number of sequencers in a single facility in the world.  These two campuses will provide the best practical training facilities for students in genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics.

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The officiating guests take a group photo after unveiling the commemorative plaque: (from left) Prof. Chan Wai-yee, Director of the CUHK–BGI Innovation Institute of Trans-omics; Ms. Guo Yurong, Secretary of Shenzhen Municipal Education Committee and Director of the Shenzhen Municipal Education Bureau; Prof. Liu Yingli, former member of the Standing Committee and Executive Vice-Mayor of Shenzhen Municipal Government, President of Shenzhen Entrepreneur Association and Honorary Fellow of CUHK; Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung, Vice-Chancellor, CUHK; Prof. Yang Huanming, Chairman and Professor, BGI – Shenzhen, China; Mr. Mo Jin-qiang, Deputy Director General of Education, Science and Technology Department of Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR; Prof. Wang Jian, President of BGI – Shenzhen, China.
The officiating guests take a group photo after unveiling the commemorative plaque: (from left) Prof. Chan Wai-yee, Director of the CUHK–BGI Innovation Institute of Trans-omics; Ms. Guo Yurong, Secretary of Shenzhen Municipal Education Committee and Director of the Shenzhen Municipal Education Bureau; Prof. Liu Yingli, former member of the Standing Committee and Executive Vice-Mayor of Shenzhen Municipal Government, President of Shenzhen Entrepreneur Association and Honorary Fellow of CUHK; Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung, Vice-Chancellor, CUHK; Prof. Yang Huanming, Chairman and Professor, BGI – Shenzhen, China; Mr. Mo Jin-qiang, Deputy Director General of Education, Science and Technology Department of Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR; Prof. Wang Jian, President of BGI – Shenzhen, China.

Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung and Prof. Yang Huanming sign the collaboration agreement.
Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung and Prof. Yang Huanming sign the collaboration agreement.

Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung gives a speech.
Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung gives a speech.

Prof. Yang Huanming gives a speech.
Prof. Yang Huanming gives a speech.

Prof. Liu Yingli gives a speech.
Prof. Liu Yingli gives a speech.

Prof. Chan Wai-yee introduces development plans of the CUHK–BGI Innovation Institute of Trans-omics.
Prof. Chan Wai-yee introduces development plans of the CUHK–BGI Innovation Institute of Trans-omics.