Newsletter No. 66

Hon g Kong's First Combined Childre n Spin a Bifid a Clini c Sp i na bifida is a common congenital anomaly characterized by defective closure of the bony encasement of the spinal cord, through which the cord and meninges may protrude. Children suffering from spina bifida often have multiple problems including neurological deficit of the lower limbs, and loss of urinary and faecal control. Optimal care for these children necessitates a multidisciplinary approach by various medical specialists. Hong Kong's first combined Children Spina Bifida Clinic was set up by the University's faculty of medicine at the Prince of Wales Hospital in early March. It is manned by specialists from relevant divisions in the Department of Surgery and the Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, as well as from the physiotherapy unit, the occupational therapy unit and the prosthetic and orthotic units. The establishment of the clinic w i ll greatly enhance the coordination of medical care and treatment, and provide greater convenience t o juvenile patients and their parents, who otherwise have to visit the hospital much more frequently to attend separate clinics. At present, an estimated 300 children in Hong Kong are suffering from spina bifida, with about 20 born annually with the defect. Expert in Cancer Biology Visits CUHK P r o f . Chen Jie from the Peking Union Medical College Hospital visited the University in early March as a Wei Lun Visiting Fellow. He gave a lecture on neuroblastoma on 6th March i n the lecture theatre of the Clinical Sciences Building of the Prince of Wales Hospital. Prof. Chen specializes in cancer biology, and has done extensive research on the gene regulation of cancer cells, covering areas such as alterations of oncogenes, growth factors in common human cancers, and the reversion of the malignant phenotype of cancer cells by antisense techniques. In his lecture 'Nerve Growth Factor- induced Differentiation of Neuroblastoma Cell Lines', Prof. Chen discussed his research on neuroblastoma, a common paediatric solid tumour which may arise from the blockage of differentiation of neuroblasts along the neuronal pathway, and explained how the nerve growth factor, a neurotropic factor essential for the survival and differentiation o f neurons, may induce differentiation of neuroblastoma cells. Professorial Inaugural Lecture on Neuronal Rescuers P r o f . Mark Tso of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences delivered his professorial inaugural lecture entitled 'From the Elixir o f Emperor Qin Shi Huang to the Neuronal Rescuers of the 20th Century' on 3rd March in the lecture theatre of the Clinical Sciences Building of the Prince of Wales Hospital. In his lecture, Prof. Tso presented recent findings of his experiments i n combatting neural degeneration, one of the main causes of aging, by injecting astaxanthin through the retina into the degenerating neurons i n the central nervous system. Wei Lun Lectures on Neural Networks T w o Wei Lun Visiting Professors, Profs. Gail Carpenter and Stephen Grossberg from the Department o f Cognitive and Neural System at Boston University, delivered public lectures at the University on 20th and 23rd February respectively in the auditorium of the Ho Sin-Hang Engineering Building. Entitled 'A Brief History of Neural Networks', Prof. Carpenter's talk traced the history of error-based neural network learning systems from perception to back propagation, and that of match-based learning systems from the learning matrix to adaptive resonance networks. In his lecture entitled 'How Does the Brain Learn to Recognize Objects?', Prof. Grossberg used Adaptive Resonance Theory (ART) architectures, expert production systems, and fuzzy logic to explain different aspects o f human learning. A pioneer in ART and the founder of the International Neural Network Society (INNS), Prof. Grossberg's research focuses on the design of mathematical models which imitate the cognitive activities of the brain. He is also the recipient of many prestigious awards in the field of neural network research, including the 1991 IEEE Neural Network Pioneer Award and the 1992 INNS Leadership Award. Five CUHK Projects Receive HSRC Funding T h e Health Services Research Committee (HSRC) was established by the government to promote and monitor the development of health services research. Its Expert Subcommittee on Grant Applications and Awards i s responsible for allocating funds t o deserving health care projects which are not of a purely clinical or biomedical nature. This year, five research projects proposed by teaching members of the University have been selected for funding by the HSRC. They are: • 'A Nutritional Survey of the Hong Kong Population i n Relation t o Cardiovascular Health' ($499,580) R e s e a r c h e r: Prof. Jean Woo, Department of Medicine • 'A Regional Cervical Screening Programme Evaluation' ($523,455) Researcher. Dr. Alexander R. Chang, Department o f Anatomical and Cellular Pathology • 'The Effectiveness of Nursing Care: Use of a Protocol to Promote Stroke Rehabilitation' ($492,851) Researchers: Dr. Ann E. Mackenzie, Mrs. Anne Chang, Department of Nursing • The Incidence of and Risk Factors for Avoidable Hospital readmissions i n Elderly Chinese — A Cohort Study' ($506,220) Researcher. Dr. Edith M.C. Lau, Department of Community and Family Medicine •'A Population Based Study of Use of Health Services and Health Status of Women in Mid-life' ($58,500) Researcher. Ms. Chan Sieu Gaen, Department of Community and Family Medicine