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Research Centres, Institutes and Units

The AIDS Institute was established in November 2007 to take HKU in a new strategic direction in fighting the global AIDS epidemic and help to make it a leader in the region in AIDS research, education and prevention. Scientists at the AIDS Institute are fully committed to conducting basic and applied research that facilitates the understanding of AIDS pathogenesis and the development of effective AIDS vaccines. Activities in the Institute include basic research to examine the virological and immunological mechanisms underlying HIV pathogenesis; new conception, design, preparation and laboratory testing of vaccine candidates for HIV and other infectious diseases; and monitoring the evolution of HIV epidemic in Hong Kong and in the region.

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The Bau Institute of Medical and Health Sciences Education (BIMHSE) was inaugurated in 2004 to underscore the Faculty’s dedication to educational excellence, and entrusted with a mission to promote excellence, professionalism, innovation and collaboration in medical and health sciences education. To further achieve these aims, BIMHSE has recently restructured its core programmes to focus on advancing the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, facilitating staff and professional development, developing research and scholarship and promoting exchange of best practice. These core programmes are led by directors and members with expertise, experience and commitment to medical education and who represent a cross-section of specialties including basic sciences, Medicine, Nursing, Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy. With a broad-base of support and well-defined areas of concentration, BIMHSE continues to consolidate its position as a leader in the field, influencing the progress and quality of medical and health sciences education locally, regionally and abroad.

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The Carol Yu Centre for Infection aims to bring the fruits of research to clinicians and the public by education, and in turn improve clinical service and health. With the vision to be a leading centre of excellence for research, education and clinical service in the area of emerging infectious disease for China, clinicians and scientists at the Centre are committed to making scientific discoveries to control the problem of emerging infectious diseases. It conducts research on the understanding of pathogenesis, diagnostics, antimicrobials and vaccination of emerging infectious diseases and the causative microbial agents.

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The Centre for Cancer Research aims to promote inter-departmental collaborations, multi-disciplinary studies and shared use of resources and expertises in the Faculty. By identifying mutual research interests, colleagues from different disciplines in the Faculty could work together to tackle key challenges in cancer. Our hope is for the Centre to serve as the convening platform for cancer research at the University.

Cancer remains a dominant challenge to the community as a cause of morbidity and mortality. By establishing and integrating clinical, basic and translational research programmes, we work towards the development of cancer prevention, early detection and effective treatment; and seek to establish ourselves as a global leader in the field of cancer research. The cancer research initiatives lies largely in the following areas:

  • cancer stem cells;
  • genetics, genomics and epigenetic study of cancers;
  • cancer cell signalling;
  • inflammation and cancer;
  • cancer imaging and detection; and
  • molecular targeted therapies.

We interact closely with leading cancer research institutes worldwide to broaden and strengthen our collaboration network. We shall further consolidate our collaboration with Mainland institutes to combat prevalent cancer in the region.

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Centre for Genomic Sciences was established with the objective to lead the genomic science in Hong Kong and the region, and to provide the expertise and infrastructure for studies in genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics. It aims to promote and facilitate the translation of the knowledge of genes, the proteins they encode, and their functions into applications for the understanding of disease mechanisms and for the development of diagnostic and therapeutic measures. It is also mandated to improve the human resources in biotechnology and to enhance public awareness in genome research for the benefit of the society.

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The Centre for the Humanities and Medicine was established in 2009 as a joint initiative between the Faculty of Arts and the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine at The University of Hong Kong. The Centre is the first institution of its kind in Asia, and one of the few in the world with a mission to foster interdisciplinary research and teaching in relation to three broad interconnected themes: the challenges posed by the translation of biomedical technologies into society; the relationship between disease, health, culture and society; and the humanization of our understanding and practice of medicine.

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The Centre for Medical Ethics and Law was established in 2012 as a joint initiative between the Faculty of Law and the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine at The University of Hong Kong. Its primary vision is to become a focal point for international research excellence in the area of medical ethics and law; to co-ordinate and provide teaching and training to university students and professionals; and to promote and disseminate its expertise to the benefit of the public. As the ethics of medical practice and research has become increasingly exposed to public and legal scrutiny, the Centre will also provide a leading forum for discussing issues of public interest and concern to Hong Kong society.

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Our understanding of the origin of life relies heavily on our understanding and application of knowledge in reproductive biology. The Centre of Reproduction, Development and Growth aims to facilitate collaboration in the areas of reproduction, development and growth. The Centre mainly focuses on the following research directions:

  • reproduction: the way to a healthy child;
  • genetics of disorders;
  • developmental and functional genomics; and
  • stem cell in developmental biology and regenerative medicine.

It is important that our research ultimately translates into helping our patients and the community. One of our aims is to promote and facilitate the collaboration between scientists and clinicians. Basic scientific research has a major impact on clinical practice, but clinical acumen is required before one can design and conduct meaningful clinical trials.

The Centre offers education opportunities through several multidisciplinary research programmes and lectures. It also promotes community awareness through public seminars and exhibitions.

We have built up core research facilities, such as the chicken embryo model system, 3D Micro CT and transgenic core facilities, which are openly available to all interested investigators in the Faculty. A tissue culture laboratory is also being set up. The Centre shall continue to strengthen inter-centre, inter-faculty and inter-institutional collaborations.

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The Centre of Influenza Research fosters research excellence on influenza and related diseases through a multi-disciplinary research program with the integration of basic, clinical and epidemiological research spanning the animal-human interface. The major research aims are to understand the evolution of human and animal influenza viruses and pandemic emergence; to investigate how influenza viruses transmit and cause disease; to develop evidence-based options for the control of influenza in humans and animals by defining the transmission dynamics and quantifying the impact of interventions; and to develop novel options for diagnosis, vaccines and therapy.

(The website of the Centre will be provided soon.)

Clinical Trials Centre is a leading academic research organisation dedicated to one-stop clinical research solutions. We are committed to enhancing global healthcare by promoting the quality and efficiency of clinical research and testing of new chemical drugs, biologics, vaccines, traditional Chinese medicines, medical devices and diagnostic tools through ethical consideration, scientific expertise, quality assurance and education. Our core competences range from academic research consultation, training and education to protocol development, feasibility assessment and site identification, regulatory affairs, finance and contract management, project management and monitoring, data management, medical statistics, and central laboratory support for industry-sponsored clinical studies.

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The HKU-Pasteur Research Centre, a joint partnership between The University of Hong Kong and Institut Pasteur, has been established in 2000 with the aim to build a program of excellence in the study of infectious diseases. The Centre has developed competitive research projects with a strong regional focus to study the interactions between pathogens and host cells, which are the battlefields of infections, with cutting edge experimental approaches. We study infectious diseases that may have devastating effect on public health and the economy of the community, with major emphasis on respiratory infections and the mosquito borne disease of dengue. The overarching goal of the Centre is to create basic knowledge that will be applied to human diseases and to foster education through advanced international Master Classes that attract students and faculty from all over the world.

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The Institute of Cardiovascular Science and Medicine (ICSM) commits itself to strive for excellence in research, teaching and training in cardiovascular sciences which contributes to the prevention and patient management of cardiovascular diseases in Hong Kong. Established by a group of cardiovascular researchers in June 1996, ICSM aims to achieve academic/research excellence in cardiovascular sciences and medicine, which would bring international recognition, and at the same time, reduce the mortality and morbidity of cardiovascular disease.

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The Laboratory Animal Unit (LAU) is a service unit of Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine. The Unit was established in 1979. The primary function of the LAU is the breeding of specific pathogen free laboratory animals for research and teaching, mainly for the Faculty of Medicine, although animals are also supplied to other University departments and units. Centralised animal holding and surgical facilities for biomedical research are also provided. The Unit also advises on matters relating to laboratory animal science and provides veterinary service to all departments and units of the University.

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The Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit (MEHU) was formed in 2012 to provide a conceptual and structural home for the two interrelated Faculty-based longitudinal programmes. The major function of the MEHU is to develop, integrate and coordinate the teaching and learning in ethics and humanities within the medical curriculum while complementing the existing disciplinary teaching. While the curricula of the Medical Ethics and Medical Humanities have distinctive features, they share common goals, an important component of which is medical professionalism in students and doctors.

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The Public Health Research Centre is committed to public health and related multidisciplinary research which can provide the evidence and intelligence most needed to support policies and strategies for the control of the double disease burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases and for the promotion of public health and well-being of the population locally, regionally as well as internationally. The Centre is also committed to protecting and improving health for all people, through the synthesis of state-of-the-science research, the dissemination of knowledge in education and training, and the application of public health sciences.

Currently, the Centre is undertaking four research thematic priorities:

  • epidemiology and control of infectious diseases and environmental health hazards;
  • lifestyle, lifecourse and molecular determinants of chronic conditions;
  • health services, systems and policy research; and
  • behavioural medicine and well-being.

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The mission of the Research Centre of Heart, Brain, Hormone & Healthy Aging is to enhance and extend human health span, and improve the quality of life in the ageing population, through excellence in biomedical research. This is well achieved through the provision of a stimulating and collegial environment for a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary effort to ageing related research. The Centre aims at developing novel therapeutic and diagnostic approaches for the promotion of healthy ageing, through synergistic interaction and inter-laboratory collaboration. To enhance the critical mass on healthy ageing research in Hong Kong, the Centre will also strive to offer excellent training opportunities and postgraduate education, in both laboratory-based research and clinical medicine, on ageing related diseases.

Investigators of the Centre pursue in-depth and innovative research on ageing diseases of the cardiovascular, neurological and endocrine systems, using the tools of modern laboratory and clinical research. The Centre focuses on four major research themes:

  • degeneration and regeneration;
  • diabetes and metabolic syndrome;
  • vascular biology; and
  • cell therapy and tissue engineering.

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In addition to the search for novel microbes in human and animals, the Research Centre of Infection and Immunology focuses on studying the interaction between existing/emerging microbes with antigen presenting cells and with novel chemical compounds. The study of the pathogenesis, cell biology in terms of intracellular signaling pathway and the resulting immunological response after the encounter between the microbe and host cells constitutes an important part of the Centre. This will have profound influence on the development of vaccine (or immunomodulatory agents) which is one of the most important armamentarium against infectious microbes.

The Centre is supported by the State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the establishment of which in HKU was approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology.

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VISION

Numerous currently incurable human diseases arise from the loss or malfunction of highly specialised cell types that lack the capacity to regenerate (e.g., heart and brain cells) due to disease, trauma or ageing (such as cardiovascular disease, spinal cord injury, etc). Human embryonic stem cells (hESC) uniquely possess the ability to self-renew (and therefore can function as an unlimited cell factory) and the potential of becoming ALL cell types of the body (i.e., pluri-potency), thereby offering unprecedented new hope; most recently, direct reprogramming of adult skin cells to become pluripotent ES-like cells (a.k.a. induced pluripotent stem cells or iPSCs) has been achieved, freeing potential ethical concerns and making ES/iPS cell-based therapies another step closer to reality.

The Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Consortium at HKU has the following long-term visions:

  • To prolong the human life span and to improve the quality of life via successful hESC/iPSC-related research;
  • To provide a collegial and intellectually stimulating environment for a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Consortium;
  • To make significant, long half-life fundamental discoveries of high academic and scientific value in the hESC/iPSC field;
  • To develop novel commercially-viable and marketable therapeutic approaches that can directly benefit patients and the economy of HKSAR via translational research; and
  • To foster the field by offering excellent training opportunities and education to nurture the next-generation scientists, clinicians and academicians.

MISSION

Our mission is to establish an internationally renowned, highly-specialised academic programme in Regenerative Medicine that functions as a stem cell hub for attracting regional and foreign talents, and to serve as a bridge between China and Western countries. SCRMC is devoted to support and promote collaborations between basic, translational and clinical faculty specialised in diseases of different disciplines. A goal is to enable researchers from HKU and elsewhere to most effectively translate basic scientific discovery into practicable applications.

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