Date
12 December 2018
Chief Executive Carrie Lam (back row, center) attends the signing ceremony between HKU and Harvard SEAS for a planned joint instrumentation laboratory for precision medicine. Photo: HKEJ
Chief Executive Carrie Lam (back row, center) attends the signing ceremony between HKU and Harvard SEAS for a planned joint instrumentation laboratory for precision medicine. Photo: HKEJ

HKU, Harvard to jointly set up lab for precision medicine tools

The University of Hong Kong (HKU) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a Harvard University school for cooperation in the field of advanced medical instruments for diagnostics and drug delivery.

Under the preliminary pact inked by the HKU’s Faculty of Engineering and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science (Harvard SEAS) on Sunday, the two universities will jointly set up a laboratory in Hong Kong to develop instruments for precision medicine.

The planned facility will focus on medical instrumentation for microfluidic-based diagnostics, drug delivery and sensor development, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

HKU’s dean of engineering Christopher Chao Yu-hang and Harvard SEAS executive dean for education and research Fawwaz Habbal officiated at the signing ceremony, which was witnessed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung.

Also present at the event was Kurt Tong, consul general of the United States to Hong Kong and Macau, HKU president and vice-chancellor Zhang Xiang, and David Weitz, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard SEAS.

The joint laboratory is in response to the Hong Kong government’s aim to turn the city into a “global hub of innovation and technology, particularly in the areas of healthcare technologies”, a press release said on Sunday.

Innovation and technological development in precision medicine, which is an emerging field of research by scientists, will “open up a new paradigm in healthcare leading to the customisation of healthcare, with medical decisions, treatments, practices, or products being tailored to individuals,” the statement said.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Lam said the government is committed to attracting world-leading research institutions to carry out collaborative research.

The MoU between the HKU Faculty of Engineering and Harvard SEAS is “a very significant step in this endeavor” because it “signifies enhanced collaboration and cross-fertilization in the research area of precision medicine” in the city, she said.

The HKU Faculty of Engineering and Harvard SEAS plan to submit a proposal to the government under the recently announced [email protected] research cluster initiative, laying out an initiative to establish a research laboratory in the Hong Kong Science Park next summer.

Paddy Chan, associate professor at HKU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, revealed that he will oversee a team that will study a new type of blood glucose meter that will be able run tests using people’s saliva rather than blood.

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TL/JC/RC

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