2 April 2008

State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology (CUHK)
Set Up at CUHK with State Approval



The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has obtained approval of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China to set up the State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology (CUHK), the second state key laboratory (SKL) at the University following the establishment of the State Key Laboratory in Oncology in South China (CUHK) in 2006.

The laboratory, positioned at the national level, was established with the mission of up-scaling China’s agricultural technology to the world frontier to increase agricultural productivity, safeguard food security in China, and improve people’s nutrition. It will tap into Hong Kong’s advantages in global networking, international human resources and modern management, and the mainland’s strengths in economy, research capacity and abundant natural resources.

The State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology (CUHK) is housed in the complex comprising the Science Centre and the Centralized Science Laboratories Building. The laboratory is directed by Professor Samuel Sun Sai-ming, who is a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and has been director of the UGC-AoE Centre for Plant and Agricultural Biotechnology of CUHK since 2000. Taking pride in the establishment of the SKL, Professor Sun said, ‘This is an eloquent testimony to the fact that our efforts and achievements in agrobiotechnology are acknowledged and recognized by the country. By teaming up with the best agricultural university in China, we can complement each other and maximize our respective strengths for the best results.’

CUHK and China Agricultural University (CAU), both leaders in agrobiotechnology, have developed a long cooperative relationship, thereby laying a solid cornerstone for the SKL. Under the auspices of Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, Education Bureau and Innovation and Technology Commission of the Hong Kong SAR Government, the laboratory will carry out research in collaboration with CAU on the development of molecular biotechnology, increase of rice yield, improvement of the nutritive value of rice and crop resistance.

According to Professor Sun, plant biotechnology plays a pivotal role in ensuring food safety in the world. He envisages that the combination of traditional wisdom of farmers and breeders and modern biotechnology would help develop new rice varieties with improved yield and nutritive value. Since rice is the staple food of half of the world population today, studies that can stabilize rice supply are of vital importance and global concern. The SKL will strive to improve the well-being of tens of millions of the Chinese population and actively promote cooperation between the mainland and Hong Kong on scientific advancement.

The State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology (CUHK) is staffed by researchers from the Institute of Plant Molecular Biology and Agricultural Biotechnology of CUHK, which has a remarkable research track record in areas of crop improvement, functional genomics and bioreactors. In the past ten years, the plant and agricultural biotechnology research carried out by the institute has been twice selected as an Area of Excellence (AoE) by the international monitoring and assessment panel commissioned by the Hong Kong SAR Government, securing a total research funding of HK$ 63 million from the University Grants Committee and becoming the only agricultural technology research among the ten selected AoEs in Hong Kong.

The institute has established close and extensive collaboration with a number of units on the mainland, including the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Centre, the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Crop Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Peking University, Tsinghua University, Yangzhou University, the China National Rice Research Institute in Hangzhou, and the Economic Crop Research Institute of the Shanxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences. It has also embarked on an international research project, funded with HK$ 88 million by the Bills & Melinda Gates Foundation, to increase the nutritive value of rice in collaboration with six laboratories from four countries. In addition, the institute is involved in joint projects working with researchers from the US, Britain and Japan on crop improvement, stress resistance, and plant cell biology.

Professor Samuel Sun Sai-ming, Director, State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology (CUHK)
Professor Samuel Sun Sai-ming, Director, State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology (CUHK)

Core researchers of the State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology (CUHK)
Core researchers of the State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology (CUHK)


Professor Samuel Sun Sai-ming (right), Director, and Professor Lam Hon-ming, Deputy Director, State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology (CUHK)
Professor Samuel Sun Sai-ming (right), Director, and Professor Lam Hon-ming, Deputy Director, State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology (CUHK)


The full research team of the State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology (CUHK)
Above: The research team forms the Chinese word for "rice" to signify their commitment to develop new rice varieties with improved yield and nutritive value
The full research team of the State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology (CUHK)
Above: The research team forms the Chinese word for "rice" to signify their commitment to develop new rice varieties with improved yield and nutritive value