Making News

The silent killer: laryngeal cancer emerges as a new battleground for those with affluent lifestyles

Cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes are considered diseases of affluence – and now another potential candidate has been added to the list. Researchers from CUHK and APRU found a surprising correlation between per capita GDP and laryngeal cancer instance rates, which are alarmingly high in the Caribbean and Europe due to unhealthy lifestyles. In addition, women in Japan, Switzerland and the Czech Republic are defying the global trend to register an increasing number of cases.

Plastic fantastic: how kombucha could upend the world of biodegradable packaging materials

Prepare to be amazed by what kombucha can become. CUHK researchers have discovered that this beloved beverage holds the key to eco-friendly food packaging. It can be used to make a bio-based material that stretches like plastic but decomposes naturally, promising to revolutionise packaging. Best of all, it’s harmless and can even be eaten. Goodbye plastic pollution, thanks to the extraordinary potential of kombucha.

Here be dragons: how a scaly, mythical beast has helped to shape the history of China

Dragons are intimately intertwined with Chinese culture – so much so that we’re not even sure of these mythological creatures’ origins. Whether they be an offshoot of ancient religious worship, a composite of animals like alligators, snakes or something else, they have long fascinated scholars. As a recent CUHK exhibition demonstrated, ancient Chinese artefacts with dragon designs can profoundly illuminate socio-cultural attitudes of people across different times.

Five CUHK labs pushing the boundaries of scientific discovery

Countries and regions worldwide fiercely compete to attract top talent. Support and infrastructure play a crucial role in academics’ and scientists’ decisions about where to pursue their research endeavours. Five world-renowned scientists have recently joined CUHK to establish cutting-edge STEM labs in Hong Kong. Let’s find out what drew them to do so and what they aspire to accomplish.

CUHK continues its path of visionary aspirations during its 60th anniversary

As an international university, CUHK is committed to promoting exchanges among tertiary institutions in different places. In late 2023, the University organised several presidential forums, and was involved in inaugurating the Belt & Road Alliance for Traditional Chinese Medicine. In celebration of CUHK’s 60th anniversary, it has held a series of commemorative events in the past few months, such as an anniversary banquet and a visit to CUHK from renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Multiple academic successes at the end of 2023

CUHK scholars continue to garner international accolades for their academic excellence. Remarkably, 13 of them were recognised among the most cited researchers of 2023 globally, while one has been elected as the only new Hong Kong member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Read more to find out what else they have achieved.

The gold standard for treating kidney diseases

Dialysis is inconvenient and debilitating for millions of people worldwide with chronic kidney disease (CKD), with a major negative impact on their daily lives. Even worse, there are no treatments for the major marker of the condition, kidney fibrosis – meaning the root of the problem cannot be tackled. However, thanks to a CUHK research team, that could change: while searching for an effective gene therapy for the disease, they discovered something surprising – tiny particles of gold alone are capable of treating it. So far, they’ve proved it works in mice; now they’re working towards trialling it in people.

The heat is on

Tick-tock, tick-tock: the climate clock is making an alarming sound, counting down the amount of time we have left to save the earth. Scorching heat and potentially devastating flooding are both on the rise. Two recent CUHK studies have explored what we can do about that: while one is helping the authorities map floods and take contingency measures, the other predicts an ever hotter future, and suggests ways we can mitigate the heat’s most debilitating effects.

Smart gut microbes boost our immune response against COVID-19

It might surprise you that our immune systems have a memory, and it is crucial in our battle against diseases like COVID-19. The secret of improving this memory might be living inside you already. A research team from CUHK’s Faculty of Medicine has discovered the critical role that certain gut bacteria can play in lengthening the duration of immune responses to COVID-19 vaccines. The problem is, not everyone has them. As a result, they’ve come up with a supplement containing the beneficial bacteria, and demonstrated how effective it can be in boosting immunity. Now they’re looking at what our gut microbiome can do to protect us from other diseases.

Exploring new horizons: cutting-edge innovation events and conferences

CUHK has recently organised several events that demonstrate its research excellence in promoting innovation and technology. At the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society – Asia Pacific Conference 2023, 1000 research leaders and industry experts from around the world shared the latest breakthroughs; Innovation Day gathered over 40 CUHK start-ups to showcase the results of industry-academia-research collaboration; Entrepreneur Day provided a platform for academics, students, alumni, investors and industry to advance the entrepreneurship agenda; and the CUHK Robotics Open Day presented cutting edge discoveries to the wider community.

CUHK scholars keep receiving international honours and accolades

As CUHK marks its 60th anniversary, its members have received numerous prestigious honours. Professor Katalin Karikó, who was recently awarded the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa by CUHK, was honoured with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2023 approximately two months later. Professor Liao Wei-hsin has become the first recipient from Hong Kong of the Leonardo Da Vinci Award. Professor Cheng Hong and her research team became the first in Hong Kong to receive the prestigious Best Paper Award (Research Track) from the ACM SIGKDD International Conference. Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Chan has been bestowed the European Society for Medical Oncology Lifetime Achievement Award. Last but not least, Vice-Chancellor Professor Rocky S. Tuan has been elected as Chair of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities.

The world’s most powerful artificial muscle gives hope to the injured

Wearable artificial muscles offer the hope of recovery for people with devastating injuries and medical conditions. With ExoMuscle, Professor Raymond Tong Kai-yu from CUHK has come up with the most effective artificial muscle yet developed: twice as strong as human muscles, it could potentially be used to create a wearable exoskeleton, like something worn by super villain Doctor Octopus. ExoMuscle interprets signals from the muscles and brain through a unique interface that connects them with the bionic muscle.

Making abounded glass an urban cooling aid

Can you imagine how hot you would feel when a heatwave comes if you lived in a tin-sheet house? It would be like living in a steam oven. Heatwaves are roasting the world, smashing records with unrelenting severity. A CUHK research team has developed a high-performance radiative cooling paint based on recycled glass, a forgotten resource in our communities. It can potentially provide buildings with supplemental cooling without consuming energy.

mRNA pioneer Professor Katalin Karikó’s journey of perseverance

Professor Katalin Karikó’s story is a shining example of how the power of persistence can lead to discoveries that change the world. In the face of countless obstacles, she tenaciously pursued her vision of utilising mRNA for therapy for decades. Alongside Professor Drew Weissman, their research paved the way for the development of life-saving Covid vaccines. She embodies not only relentless pursuit of scientific knowledge, but also the hope to ignite passion and inspire young minds about the wonders of science.

Bridging borders and breaking barriers: CUHK’s new centres promote global collaboration

CUHK’s new centres are set to usher in an era of thrilling academic collaboration and scientific breakthroughs. The internationally accredited CU-Med Biobank promises revolutionary drug research, while the S.H. Ho Research Centre for Infectious Diseases unites researchers to fight contagious diseases. The CUHK Beijing and Shanghai Centres create a vibrant corridor, bridging mainland China and Hong Kong and forging new knowledge, innovation and industry partnerships.

CUHK scholars recognised on the international stage

CUHK’s distinguished scholars have recently reaped several awards. Professor Li Cheuk-ting was honoured with the IEEE Information Theory Society Paper Award 2023; Professor Qin Ling and Professor Yu Jun were elected as Foreign Members of the Academia Europaea; and Distinguished Visiting Professor-at-Large Yau Shing-tung was awarded the Shaw Prize 2023 in Mathematical Sciences. Additionally, CUHK broke into the top 100 in THE Impact Rankings 2023 for the first time, making a significant milestone on its academic journey.

The amphibious drone: A bird in the air, a fish in the water

Take a quick look at the TJ-FlyingFish, and you might think it’s a typical quadcopter drone. Watch it in action, though, and you’ll discover it’s an amphibious drone, equally at home in the air and under the water, is capable of moving seamlessly between the two, and can operate entirely autonomously in both environments. The new drone, jointly invented by CUHK Professor Ben M. Chen and his research team, promises to revolutionise a range of tasks, from surveying to remote sensing to search and rescue.

The cancer killer

Painful, debilitating and potentially dangerous: treating cancer metastases in the lungs through conventional methods is fraught with challenges. A new treatment, however, promises to revolutionise the process by using a remote, robotically controlled system to deliver a catheter into delicate areas of the lungs, where it can destroy the cancer cells precisely and effectively using microwave energy. Entirely non-invasive and in most cases pain-free, the system has delivered impressive results in early trials, successfully treating several patients with multiple lung metastases.

Beating back blindness

In today’s digital age, children spend most of the time glued to their devices, so the risk of them developing myopia is skyrocketing. Once the condition has kicked in, there’s no way of reversing it – and it can lead to all sorts of more serious eye problems. A new CUHK study demonstrates that giving children eyedrops featuring low concentrations of common anti-myopia medication atropine can prevent the condition from developing in the first place.

Guts and glory

Maybe you are one of the victims of a debilitating gastrointestinal disease, like gastric acid reflux or pathogen H pylori. When you are suffering from those diseases, you might wonder how bacteria which causes peptic ulcers can survive the acidic environment in your stomach? Besides risky invasive surgeries treating gastric acid reflux, is there an easier way getting rid of heartburn? You may be inspired by two recent CUHK breakthroughs.

Taking a bite out of shrimp allergy

Shrimp is one of the most common food allergies in the world, and severe allergic reactions can be life-threatening. But there’s some good news: researchers from CUHK have successfully identified 11 allergens in shrimp, which could help diagnose allergies more accurately. It means that in the future, when someone suspects they’re allergic to shrimp, a component-based specific IgE antibody test could be able to help them.

Global academic leaders at CUHK

To celebrate its 60th anniversary, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) is partnering with Times Higher Education (THE) to host the THE Asia Universities Summit on 21-23 June 2023. The three-day Summit is themed “The Asian University in 2050”. Speakers include presidents, vice-presidents and university leaders from top universities in nations and regions including mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, India, Pakistan, the Middle East, Oceania and beyond. CUHK Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rocky S. Tuan will open the summit and speak on a number of sessions.

CUHK’s Advanced Therapy Products GMP Centre offers hope of curing cancers

Imagine that some of the most aggressive cancers can be cured and patients no longer have to face a bleak destiny. For years, cancer patients had little hope for a cure despite all the excruciating surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. But now, those who were once hopeless are experiencing miraculous recoveries, thanks to the advent of cell and gene therapy. CUHK’s Advanced Therapy Products Good Manufacturing Practice Centre promises to help researchers speed up clinical trials and deliver breakthrough treatments, opening a new era of hope and possibility.

CUHK’s innovation talents honoured in national and international competitions

One of the most innovative universities in the city and the region, CUHK is committed to producing impactful research and propelling innovation in Hong Kong and beyond. Recently, CUHK students and scholars have excelled in several national and international competitions, while the CUHK Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Research Institute (Futian) (FITRI) has recently been unveiled to foster cross-border I&T collaboration.