Prof Nancy Ip, Dean of Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has been bestowed Knight of l'Ordre National du Mérite by Mr Arnaud Barthélémy, Consul-General of France in Hong Kong and Macau. Prof Ip is one of a handful of people who have received this decoration in Hong Kong. Knight of l'Ordre National du Mérite was established in 1963 by Charles de Gaulle who was then French President. The French President Nicolas Sarkozy decided to present Prof Ip the title and rank this year in recognition of her scientific contribution to the community, her constant efforts to establish collaborations among France, Hong Kong and Mainland China in the field of science and higher education, and her commitment to their further development.
HKUST President Tony F Chan stated that HKUST is most honored to have one of its distinguished scientists Prof Nancy Ip being bestowed Knight of l'Ordre National du Mérite. He added that as a global research university, HKUST is proactively building international relationships and collaborations with the Government of France on many fronts in particular.
Prof Ip said, "It is a great honor to have this distinguished title conferred upon me by President Sarkozy. This is undoubtedly a highlight of my career as both a scientist and an educator. I will continue to work hard to solidify ties between our two countries and develop a culture of collaboration in both science and education, and am looking forward to working closely with my French counterparts in the years to come."
Currently the Dean of Science, Chair Professor of the Division of Life Science, and Director of the State Key Laboratory of Molecular Neuroscience at HKUST, Prof Nancy Ip received her PhD degree in Pharmacology from Harvard University and is a world-renowned neuroscientist with research interest in the understanding of brain development and drug discovery for neurodegenerative diseases. She is well known for her discoveries in the biology of neurotrophic factors, which are proteins that promote the survival, development and maintenance of neurons in the brain. Her research led to the identification of neurotrophic factors as potential pharmaceutical agents for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. She is also internationally recognized as a leader in elucidating the molecular signaling mechanism at synapses, where nerve cells communicate. Given the association of synaptic dysfunction with the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases, her findings provided important clues for the development of therapeutics for these disorders.
Prof Ip has garnered numerous awards including the Honors for Women Innovators at the APEC Women and Economy Summit (2011), the Scientific and Technological Progress Prize of Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation (2008), the L'OREAL-UNESCO "For Women in Science" Award, making her the first honoree in life sciences from China (2004), and the National Natural Science Award, China's highest honor in the natural sciences (2003). She was elected Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the highest academic honor bestowed on Chinese scientists (2001), and a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (2004). As a highly accomplished researcher, Prof Ip has published over 210 scientific papers in prominent reputable journals with more than 13,600 SCI citations, was among the top 100 highly cited researchers in neuroscience (1993-2002), and holds 21 patents.
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