The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) officially opens its first national-level laboratory on campus today, to advance the research frontier on molecular neuroscience.
The Ministry of Science and Technology of China has approved the establishment of the State Key Laboratory of Molecular Neuroscience at HKUST, to build on the existing foundation of excellence in molecular neuroscience at the University.
Professor Nancy Ip, Chair Professor of Biochemistry at HKUST and Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has been appointed Director of the State Key Laboratory. She will steer the research strategy of the State Key Laboratory, coordinate research projects and oversee its operations.
Officiating at the plaque unveiling ceremony of the Laboratory, Miss Janet Wong, Commissioner of Innovation and Technology, said, “With innovation and technology becoming one of the six areas where Hong Kong would have a competitive edge and which government will strongly promote, I look forward to the continued support from HKUST in turning world-class technology knowhow into real life applications for the benefit of Hong Kong’s economic and social development.”
Also at the ceremony, HKUST President Tony F Chan said, “The high status of our Molecular Neuroscience Center is proof that this University is a force of scientific creativity to be reckoned with, and that Hong Kong is capable of transforming itself into a knowledge society. It should now be taken as an article of faith in Hong Kong that to gain a competitive advantage in the region we must do it through science and technology.”
“I am very happy to see that our leaders in Beijing are guiding China towards the path of development in science and technology. We at HKUST are determined to act in concert with the motherland, and play a part in her scientific revolution,” President Chan added.
The crucial groundwork for establishing this Laboratory was laid 11 years ago through the establishment of the Molecular Neuroscience Center (MNC) on the HKUST campus in 1999, and recognition by the University Grants Committee “Area of Excellence (AoE) Scheme” in 2001 and 2007 respectively. The AoE scheme, together with support from the Innovation Technology Commission and Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust contributed towards developing and implementing the required framework for the State Key Laboratory.
The strength of the Laboratory lies in the multidisciplinary nature of the team that has been assembled – drawing from the expertise of over 20 faculty members in the departments of Biochemistry, Biology and Chemistry – as well as the depth of their collective expertise.
Armed with this distinction, the Laboratory aims to become one of the world’s leading research hub in this discipline – to advance basic research in molecular neuroscience, and to stimulate the formation of new biotechnology ventures in China.
The Laboratory aims to investigate important fundamental questions in the nervous system, such as the development, functioning and plasticity of nerve cells. Knowledge obtained from this basic neuroscience research will help to unravel the mechanisms of various neurological diseases, thereby providing important clues on the discovery and development of drugs that would retard progression or alleviate symptoms of the disorders.
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