2012 Croucher Senior Research Fellowships

30 March 2012

Three outstanding scholars of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) were awarded the prestigious Senior Research Fellowship by the Foundation on 29th March 2012 in recognition of their excellent scientific achievements and contributions to the international scientific community.  The awards were presented by Mr Kenneth Chen JP, Under Secretary for Education of the HKSAR Government.  In his address to the audience after the presentation of awards, Chen praised the award winners for their unfailing efforts to scale the mountain of knowledge and pursue things that benefit us all.

The 2012 Croucher Senior Research Fellows are Dr Lu Liwei of the Department of Pathology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine; Dr. Alice S. T. Wong of the School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science; and Professor Ed X. Wu of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Faculty of Engineering.

The fellowship is awarded by the Foundation to local academics who have excelled in scientific research work as judged by leading international scientists invited to provide confidential reviews of candidates nominated in a competitive exercise.

The value of each Senior Research Fellowship is HK$816,000, which includes a personal grant of HK$60,000 to the recipient for research expenses, and funds to the University to recruit replacement staff to take over the recipient’s duties for the period of the fellowship.

Dr Lu Liwei is an immunologist with internationally recognized expertise in studying lymphocyte development and its dysregulation in autoimmune diseases. Self-reactive B cells in human body attack people’s own immune system, leading to serious autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, etc. Dr Lu and his research team have been doing research on B cells and identified a novel role of B cell activating-factor (BAFF) in regulating B cell function. The team has developed a new cell therapy to suppress autoimmune response which has been proofed effective in animal model with arthritis. His research brings new hopes to cure autoimmune diseases in human.

The research of Dr. Alice S. T. Wong focuses on signal transduction in cancer. In particular, cell adhesion molecules are very important for many physiological processes, which if deregulated, can contribute to cancer. The old view attributes their ability to affect cell functions to their adhesive properties. Dr Wong’s research findings have presented new evidence that questions this hypothesis and suggests a different scenario. Using new techniques and innovative methodologies, more recent research in her group endeavors to unravel the precise mechanism of cell adhesion dynamics pertinent to ovarian cancer development and metastasis, aiming to providing insights for the development of new therapies to this highly malignant and rapidly lethal human cancer not only in our local community but also worldwide.

Professor Ed X. Wu is an internationally recognized leader in the field of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) research. He has made numerous seminal contributions to in vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods and their preclinical and clinical applications. They include diffusion characterization of neural and heart tissues, high-resolution investigation of capillary vasculature in brain and heart, development of gas-filled microbubbles, molecular imaging with manganese ions, and separation of ferritin and hemosiderin iron for monitoring patients with heart and liver iron overload.

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