The Theme-based Research Scheme (TRS), launched in 2010 by the Research Grants Council, aims to focus academic research efforts of the UGC-funded universities on themes of strategic importance to the long-term development of Hong Kong, namely Promoting Good Health, Developing a Sustainable Environment, Enhancing Hong Kong's Strategic Position as a Regional and International Business Centre and Advancing Emerging Research and Innovations Important to Hong Kong. In the six rounds of TRS, HKU has been awarded 14 of the 30 funded projects as coordinating university, and HKU researchers are participating in a further 12 coordinated by other local universities.
Promoting Good Health
This project aims to address major gaps in using human pluripotent stem cells to bioengineer human heart tissues for translating into cell-based therapies for heart diseases and other applications. Significant advances in the field are anticipated, including the development of bio-artificial engineered human heart tissue constructs that are functionally viable, immunocompatible and durable after transplantation to achieve long-lasting beneficial outcomes.
Project Coordinator: Professor R.A. Li, Dr Li Dak-Sum Research Centre (email@example.com)
Expertise and strength in clinical and genetic research—based on the team’s existing large clinic and population-based databases, biomarker discovery and development, and human stem cell platform—is combined in this project to develop a novel approach to “Personalized Medicine” for diagnosing and treating dyslipidemia, a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases in the local Chinese population.
Project Coordinator: Professor H.F. Tse, Department of Medicine (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This project aims to define the functional attributes of the genetic factors associated with intervertebral disc disease (IDD) and address how genomic variation contributes to the risk, onset, severity and progression of the disease. Expected long-term applications include prediction of total personal risk for IDD that will improve prevention and management of the disease, and design of improved cell-based therapies to protect healthy discs from degeneration and retard or reverse the degenerative process.
Project Coordinator: Professor K.S.E. Cheah, School of Biomedical Sciences (email@example.com)
Hirschsprung disease (HSCR) is a birth defect that leads to neonatal intestinal obstruction. This project aims to gain new understanding of the biology of HSCR for more accurate diagnosis and better risk prediction. The team aims to discover new disease-associated genes, test whether these genes cause HSCR, test how these genetic changes cause disease and clinical diversity in mouse models, and correlate laboratory findings with patient databases for clinical validation.
Project Coordinator: Professor P.K.H. Tam, Department of Surgery (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Influenza is a major threat to global public health. Pandemic influenza can spread worldwide within weeks. This project aims to address two major research questions: (i) the biological determinants of influenza virus transmission from animals-to-humans and from humans-to-humans; and (ii) the immunological mechanisms protecting from or contributing to severe influenza disease.
Project Coordinator: Professor J.S.M. Peiris, School of Public Health (email@example.com)
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, like other emerging infectious agents, is a global health threat. This project seeks to identify the evolutionary paths leading to the emergence of MERS and the mechanisms of interspecies transmission, to delineate the molecular mechanisms by which the MERS coronavirus evades innate immunity, and to characterise its pulmonary and extrapulmonary replication and pathogenesis.
Project Coordinator: Professor P.C.Y. Woo, Department of Microbiology (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Gastric cancer (GC) is the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide. The team seeks to understand how each unique combination of GC driver gene alteration contributes to cancer development and their reliance on survival pathways that could translate into therapeutic opportunities. This study is expected to accelerate therapeutic development of GC through deep biological insights on combination driver alterations, enabling genome-guided patient stratification and drug repositioning, identifying new driver genes and pathways for new drug development.
Project Coordinator: Professor S.Y. Leung, Department of Pathology (email@example.com)
In liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma, HCC), like other cancers, a subset of cancer cells referred to as cancer stem cells (CSCs) is capable of self-renewal and maintaining tumor propagation. This project aims to identify the molecular pathways common to the different CSC subpopulations and examine how these pathways may regulate CSCs, hence providing targets for selective blocking of CSC functions. The team also aims to translate the high-quality research findings from this project into pre-clinical trials to target liver CSCs for novel HCC treatments.
Project Coordinator: Professor I.O.L. Ng, Department of Pathology (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Developing a Sustainable Environment
This project aims to address energy issues for the development of a sustainable environment. It focuses on organic photovoltaics (OPVs) for solar energy conversion to generate alternative sources of clean renewable energy, and organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), which are recognized as a viable candidate for developing and implementing a more efficient solid-state lighting system.
Project Coordinator: Professor V.W.W. Yam, Department of Chemistry (email@example.com)
With continuous development of light emitting diode (LED) devices, LED application in public lighting is still at a bottleneck that lies in the “system” aspects, e.g. short product lifetime and failure to meet luminous flux output. This project proposes a sustainable lighting technology that involves the search for a novel “general LED system theory for non-identical LED devices” which can lead to new LED systems with high efficiency, luminous efficacy, long lifetime and high percentage of recyclable materials.
Project Coordinator: Professor S.Y.R. Hui, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This project addresses new developments in power control devices and system automation, including the necessary communications, to ensure the required quality in power supply for frequency, voltages and security are achieved despite the variable nature of renewable power. It also addresses the need to harness the potential for more use of energy storage and demand management mechanisms to implement new ways to achieve balancing and stability in a flexible multi-layer structure; and how to analyse, control and protect large complex cyber-physical networks.
Project Coordinator: Professor D.J. Hill, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (email@example.com)
In this project, novel technologies will be developed for advanced wastewater treatment and food waste processing, such as Chemically-enhanced Membrane Filtration (CeMF), side-stream Acidogenic sludge and food waste Co-Fermentation (sACF), and treatment of the waste sludge by thermal Sludge Hydrolysis followed by fungal Fermentation and Refinery (SHFR). The project seeks to fundamentally transform wastewater treatment from an end-of-the-pipe purification to a resource-mining practice, and achieve more sustainable water pollution control, resource recovery and sludge minimisation.
Project Coordinator: Professor X.Y. Li, Department of Civil Engineering (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Enhancing Hong Kong's Strategic Position as a Regional and International Business Centre
This project seeks to provide independent academic analysis of Hong Kong’s role as an international financial centre, both to enhance competitiveness and reduce the risk of crisis, encompassing four central questions on regulation, corporate governance, Mainland liberalisation and international competitiveness. Major outputs include reports addressing the mandate of Basic Law Article 109 and the development of a general framework/theory to understand financial centre evolution and development.
Project Coordinator: Professor D.W. Arner, Department of Law (email@example.com)
This project aims to develop a research programme to establish the key dimensions and indicators, as well as assessment instruments, for the establishment of developmental milestones for digital citizenship from childhood to young adulthood (age 7 to 22); develop an online role play simulation game platform for fostering and assessing digital literacy and collaborative problem-solving ability for adolescents and young adults; develop pedagogical theory and design principles for fostering digital citizenship based on massive empirical e-learning and assessment data; and identify the family and school factors that contribute to the development of digital citizenship.
Project Coordinator: Professor N.W.Y. Law, Faculty of Education (firstname.lastname@example.org)