28 September 2020
16 September 2020
CUHK to Award Honorary Doctorates to Six Distinguished Persons

The Council of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) will confer honorary doctorates upon the following six distinguished persons at the 89th Congregation for the Conferment of Honorary and Doctor’s Degrees to be held on 3 December 2020, in recognition of their outstanding contributions to their respective areas of achievement in public welfare, scientific and educational progress, the promotion of human health, and sports. They are: 

Name Honorary Degrees to be awarded
Professor Sir Shankar BALASUBRAMANIAN   Doctor of Science, honoris causa
Professor Sir John BELL Doctor of Science, honoris causa
Dr. Charles CHEN Yidan Doctor of Social Science, honoris causa
Professor Harvey F. LODISH Doctor of Science, honoris causa
Dr. SHEN Jinkang Doctor of Social Science, honoris causa
Professor Sir Steve SMITH Doctor of Laws, honoris causa
(Surname in Alphabetical Order)   

* The 89th Congregation is planned to be conducted physically. If the circumstances at that time do not allow for that, the event will be conducted online.

Professor Sir Shankar BALASUBRAMANIAN is a world-renowned chemist and Herchel Smith Professor of Medicinal Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, Senior Group Leader at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He co-invented Solexa sequencing, which means human DNA can be decoded a million times faster and cheaper than it could before. This important invention can be applied to analysing the genetic basis of human diseases, and is particularly helpful for cancer and infectious disease research. He is also a pioneer in the development of epigenetics sequencing. His patented technology enables the identification of sensitive and disease-specific epigenetic marks from blood and tissue samples, resulting in improvement to human health through earlier diagnosis and improved patient stratification. Sir Shankar has opened new doors to the prevention and treatment of human diseases from the perspective of gene and genetics, and has received numerous awards including a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II, the Royal Medal, the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Biomolecular Technologies from the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities, a Medal from the Chemical Research Society of India, and the Heatley Medal and Prize from the Biochemical Society, UK. Professor Balasubramanian has been invited to receive the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, at the 89th Congregation in 2020, for his outstanding contribution to medical research.

Professor Sir John BELL is an internationally recognised immunologist and geneticist. He is currently Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee, Global Health Program, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations, USA, and Founder of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, one of the world’s leading centres for complex trait common disease genetics. His research programmes on autoimmune disease and immunology have contributed to clearer understanding of immune activation in a range of autoimmune diseases, and the genetic determinants of susceptibility in Type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. He has also helped to pioneer a large number of high-throughput genomic methodologies applied to biomedical research with 100,000 genome projects developed in the UK.

Sir John has opened new doors to the prevention and treatment of autoimmune diseases from the perspective of immunology and genetics, and has received numerous honours including a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, and was made a Founder Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Fellow of the Royal Society, and Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. Sir John has been Mok Hing Yiu Visiting Professor to give a talk in the “Colloquium on The Arts and Humanities in Civic Society”, one of the celebratory activities for CUHK’s Golden Jubilee in 2013. CUHK will confer upon Sir John the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa for his outstanding contribution to medical research.

Dr. Charles CHEN Yidan is a Core Founder of Tencent Holdings Limited, Founder and Honorary Chairman of Tencent Charity Foundation, Founder of the Yidan Prize and Founder of Wuhan College. Dr. Chen is recognised as the Godfather of Internet Philanthropy. He has actively promoted the use of the Internet for charity activities. His enthusiasm for charity has earned him numerous awards, including “the Most Caring Charity Model” and “the Most Caring Individual Donor” of the China Charity Award. He was among China’s top ten philanthropists and ranked top of the Forbes China Philanthropist list and top of the 13th China Charity Ranking. Dr. Chen has a great passion for education. He made donations to establish Wuhan College, a pioneer of non-profit private university in China, and donated HK$2.5 billion to establish the Yidan Prize, the world's largest education prize, as well as a number of scholarships.

Dr. Chen donated his Tencent shares – equivalent to an estimated market value of over HK$4 billion – to set up a charitable trust, focusing on furthering the development of education. He is also Life Honorary President of Shenzhen Copyright Society and Vice-Chairman of the Copyright Society of China, promoting the protection of intellectual property, copyright and patent technology. Tencent Holdings Limited, through its subsidiaries, has made generous donations to support various research projects undertaken by CUHK’s Faculty of Engineering. Dr. Chen has been invited to receive the degree of Doctor of Social Science, honoris causa, at the 89th Congregation in 2020, in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to education and public welfare.

Professor Harvey F. LODISH is an internationally renowned molecular and cell biologist, and a leader in the fields of cellular and developmental biology. He is currently Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Founding Member of the Whitehead Institute of Biomedical Research. He has isolated, cloned, and characterised numerous proteins and noncoding ribonucleic acids (RNA) that play key roles in the formation of blood and fat cells that regulate the metabolism of glucose and fatty acids. His results have important implications for the treatment of anemias, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. He has long regarded the treatment of rare diseases as his major responsibility, and believes that solving rare diseases at the genetic level is a worthwhile path. He has helped dozens of biopharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs for rare diseases, bringing hope to many patients. He has trained over 180 students, two of whom have received the Nobel Prize and Lasker Prize, and seven have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences or the National Academy of Medicine, USA. Professor Lodish has received numerous awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the MERIT Award from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, USA, and election to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. In recognition of his outstanding research achievements and contributions in the field of biology, Professor Lodish has been invited to receive the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, at the 89th Congregation in 2020.

Dr. SHEN Jinkang is a renowned cycling athlete and coach, well-respected in sports in Hong Kong and mainland China and currently Head Coach of the Hong Kong Cycling Team. Dr. Shen was widely recognised as China’s best cyclist by the late 1970s. He was forced to end his career as cyclist after being injured in a traffic accident during training, but he did not give up and developed his career in cycling coaching through further study. In 1985, he was appointed Chief Coach of China’s National Men’s Cycling Team and the team achieved the first gold medal for China in the 10th Asian Games in Seoul in the following year under his leadership. Later, he also coached China’s National Women’s Cycling Team. By applying advanced training techniques and coaching science, Dr. Shen has pushed the Chinese team to the highest level in Asia.

He took up the position of Head Coach of the Hong Kong Cycling Team in 1994, and invited Mr. Wong Kam-po who had withdrawn from competitive cycling, to re-join the Team. Through Dr. Shen’s coaching, Wong obtained his first gold medal in the 13th Asian Games in Bangkok, winning for himself the accolade “Asia’s King of Cycling”. Under Dr. Shen’s two decades of leadership, scores of young elite cycling athletes in Hong Kong, including the Olympic medallist Miss Lee Wai Sze, have been brought forward. He also received a number of honours including the Bronze Bauhinia Star, the Medal of Honour and the Chief Executive’s Commendation for Community Service from the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. He has won the Coaching Excellence Awards from the Hong Kong Bank Foundation Coaching Awards ten times. CUHK will confer upon Dr. Shen the degree of Doctor of Social Science, honoris causa, in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to sports.

Professor Sir Steve SMITH is a distinguished international relations theorist. He is highly recognised for his dedication to services to local and national higher education, and has been appointed as the International Education Champion by the UK Government with effect from September 2020. He has also been appointed as a Fulbright Commissioner by the Fulbright Commission. From 2007 to 2010, he led for higher education on the Prime Minister’s National Council of Excellence in Education, which provided advice to Government about education strategy and measures. He was President of Universities UK (UUK) – the representative body for the executive heads of UK universities – from 2009 to 2011, and remains a member on the UKK board. He was knighted in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours, and was awarded the University of South Florida’s Global Leadership Award in 2012. He received the Susan Strange Award of the International Studies Association (ISA) for the person who has most challenged the received wisdom in the profession in 1999. He is a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter, a former president of ISA and a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Sir Steve has donated and raised significant sums of money for the University of Exeter as well as other charities across the region. CUHK and the University of Exeter signed an agreement in 2018 to set up the “CUHK – University of Exeter Joint Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Resilience”, which aims to embark on large, consequential interdisciplinary collaborations to tackle emerging issues related to a changing environment and human health and wellbeing. CUHK will confer upon Sir Steve the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa for his outstanding contribution to higher education.

Professor Sir Shankar BALASUBRAMANIAN

Professor Sir John BELL

Dr. Charles CHEN Yidan

Professor Harvey F. LODISH

Dr. SHEN Jinkang

Professor Sir Steve SMITH