7 January 2009

Nobel Laureate and Eminent Scientists to Celebrate
10th Anniversary of CUHK Molecular Biotechnology Programme

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Molecular Biotechnology (MBT) programme, the MBT will organize a symposium on the “Molecular Biotechnology in the 21st Century” on the coming Friday, 9 January 2009 as the highlight of a series of celebration activities. The symposium is also one of the celebration activities for the 45th anniversary of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and the 60th anniversary of the New Asia College. Chung Chi College and the Faculty of Science are also sponsors of this event. Dr. Richard J. Roberts, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine 1993, and Doctor of Science, honoris causa, CUHK, will share his successful experiences in blending basic research and commercial profit. Eminent scientists from USA, Korea and mainland China will discuss biotechnological advancements in fields including plant, agricultural and biomedical biotechnologies with teachers, alumni, and students, who will have a reunion in the commemorative banquet that evening. For details of the symposium, please visit the website http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/mbt/.

The MBT programme is a cradle for promising scientists of the 21st century. In the past decade (1998-2008), it has produced over 230 undergraduate students. Many of them have won the support of the Croucher Foundation and the Sir Edward Youde Memorial Scholarships to pursue further studies in renowned universities overseas such as Cambridge, Oxford, UBC, UC Berkeley and Yale. Some have secured postdoctoral fellowships or research positions at institutions including Tufts, UC Berkeley and University of Washington (Seattle).

MBT students gain solid research experience especially through the Senior Experimental Project. During this mandatory training in the final year of study, the students have the opportunity to integrate their knowledge and innovation in a research group that has MBT staff as core members, such as the Area of Excellence (AoE) Centre for Plant and Agricultural Biotechnology (also recently designated as the State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology (CUHK)) and the International HapMap Project.

To allow students greater overseas exposure during their undergraduate study, the MBT programme launched the Summer Internship Programme in 2005. MBT students also actively participate in the University’s exchange programme. In the past 3 years, around 30% of MBT students gained valuable experiences in various overseas institutes such as Baylor College of Medicine, Georgetown University, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, UCLA and University of Toronto. Other graduates of the MBT programme have become specialists and representatives in medical and pharmacological sectors. There are also graduates serving the public as science teachers and Administrative Officers, while others have joined the private sector, in finance, accounting and business, as managers, consultants, and officers.

“Frankly, I have not seen any other new Life Science programme that has become so popular in such a short time in Hong Kong,” said Prof. Kwan Hoi Shan, Dean of Faculty of Science and former director of MBT programme. In fact, MBT has been successful in attracting outstanding students through the Early Admission Scheme (more than 30 EAS students in the last 5 years) and JUPAS.

The MBT programme’s mission is to provide high quality education, prepare students for R & D in biotechnology and train them in a scientific way of knowing and problem solving. The programme will continue to attract and train high calibre students and contribute knowledge and innovation to society in the 21st century.