Newsletter No. 151

CUHK FARES EXCELLENT IN AoE SCHEME The Areas of Excellence Sub-Committee of the University Grants Committee (UGC) announced the results of the first round of the AoE scheme on 20th September. 'Plant and Fungal Biotechnology', a proposal submitted by the University, was among the three projects selected for funding support for five years. It is awarded HK$38.8 million in the form of earmarked grants. Team leader of the proposal is Prof. Samuel Sun of the Department of Biology. The project will employ state-of-the-art genetic engineering and related technology to contribute to the production of food and health products in order to meet the needs of Hong Kong and the mainland. 'Information Technology', a joint proposal submitted by The Chinese University, the University of Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, also won an allocation of HK$51 million. Prof. Liew Soung Chang of the Department of Information Engineering represents CUHK in this joint project. CUHK thus lays claim to 44.3 per cent of the UGC's $126 million budget for the first ever AoE exercise in Hong Kong. In assessing the eight projects shortlisted from a total of 99 submissions from local tertiary institutions, the UGC paid special attention to the potential of the proposed AoE in achieving an international standard of excellence, its relevance to the social and economic development of Hong Kong, and whether it is built on the existing strengths and achievements of its mother institution. A ll selected proposals are found to demonstrate great potential for gaining international recognition and are deemed deserving of additional investment in state-of-the-art facilities and long-term development to maintain and advance their status in their subject area. The concept of identifying areas of excellence in UGC-funded institutions was first put forward by the UGC and endorsed by the HKSAR government in 1997. The institutions were invited to submit applications in early 1998. Recognized Research Ef forts T h r e e CUHK research projects have recently attracted funding from local sources: • Nocturnal Nasal Positive Pressure Ventilation Plus Oxygen Therapy Versus Oxygen Alone in Severe Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (HK$763,956) Sponsor: Health Services Research Fund Principal investigator: Prof. David S.C. Hui, Department of Medicine and Therapeutics • Nutrition and Physical Activity as Possible Factors Affecting Bone Mineral Status in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) — Cross-sectional and Case-control Studies (HK$789,950) Sponsor: Health Services Research Fund Principal investigator: Prof. Jack C.Y. Cheng, Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology • Developing an Intelligent On-line Monitoring System for Metal Stamping Operation (HK$2,138,450) Sponsor: Industrial Support Fund Principal investigator: Prof. Xu Yangsheng, Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering T w o inventions by CUHK staff have succeeded in obtaining US patents: • Parallel Polynucleotide Sequencing Method Using Tagged Primers Inventor: Prof. Wong Wing-hung*, Department of Statistics This is a new method of sequencing which allows simultaneous sequencing of multiple templates. By incorporating it into a certain DNA sequencing system, it could boost the performance of the system significantly. • Teaching Model for Beating Heart Coronary Artery Anastomoses Inventor: Prof. Mohammad Bashar Izzat, Department of Surgery This instrument is a model of a beating heart consisting of a moving platform which holds a model of a coronary artery. It allows training surgeons to practise performing anastomosis within a preset time. And t w o more CUHK projects supported by earmarked research grants were rated 'excellent' by the Research Grants Council, bringing the total number of CUHK projects so rated since 1988 to 30. The two projects are: • Immunohistochemical, Molecular, and Neurochemical Studies Using Neurons from Developing and Adult Cerebella of Rodents and Humans Under Normal and Pathological Conditions Principal investigator: Prof. David Yew, Department of Anatomy • An Integrated Approach for Improving Urban Housing Quality in China Principal investigator: Prof. Tunney Lee*, Department of Architecture * former staff member Honours for C U HK Staff, Students, and A l umn i • The book Gender and the South China Miracle, written by Prof. Lee Ching-kwan of the Department of Sociology, has won this year's Outstanding Book Award of the American Sociological Association (Asia and Asian Americans Section). • Dr. Chen Xiao M i n g, an alumnus of the University, won the 1999 Distinguished Young Scientist Award of the Qiu Shi Science and Technologies Foundation in China. He studied for his Ph.D. under the supervision of Prof. Thomas Mak of the Chemistry Department from 1989 to 1992. He is currently professor and associate dean of the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Zhongshan University • Dr. Ronald C.C. Wang, a graduate of the University has been awarded a postdoctoral scholarship from DAAD, the German Academic Exchange Service. The first Hong Kong student to have won the award, Dr. Wang completed his Ph.D. studies in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University in February 1998. He then joined the Biosciences Special Programme at the Institute of Biochemistry at Germany's Humboldt University from May to August 1999 as a visiting postdoctoral fellow. • CUHK rowing teams captured the championship trophy in both the men's and the women's races i n the Thirteenth Intervarsity Rowing Championship held on the Shing Mun River on 19th September. It was the third consecutive win for the men's team in the coxed-eight 3,000-metre race and the fifth for the women's in the coxed-four 1,500-metre race. Dr . Rona ld C . C . Won g