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CUHK Bioethics Conference to Explore “Double Whammy” of Longevity and Biotechnology Revolutions in Hong Kong

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Centre for Bioethics will launch a two-day conference in which experts from around the world, together with some of Hong Kong’s leading specialists in bioethics, biotechnology, and ageing will look at the prospects for managing the twin longevity and genomic revolutions from January 9 to 10, 2015, at the Conference Hall, 2/F, Central Government Offices in Tamar, Central, Hong Kong. Entitled “Building Bioethics Capacity in Hong Kong: Ethical Dimensions of Policy for Ageing and Genetics,” the conference will be the first among a series of annual international meetings on bioethics organized by CUHK’s Centre for Bioethics.  


The world is facing a longevity revolution and Hong Kong is one of its epicenters. By the end of the century, Hong Kong will have the third-oldest population in the world, according to the United Nations, as a result of declining birthrates and longer life expectancy.


Breakthroughs in biotechnology, rocketing ahead since the first sequencing of the human genome in 2001, are reinforcing both the potential and threat of this “longevity revolution”. Will it create an unbearable burden for the younger generation, or new horizons for human productivity and life quality? And how will Hong Kong, as a society?


Dr. Alexandre Kalache, who coined the term “longevity revolution”, will be among keynote speakers, together with Dr. Victor Rodwin, the world’s leading expert on the unique strategies used by global cities to tackle the challenges of the “silver tsunami” – a burst in the demographic segment traditionally considered to be beyond working age.


Dr. Erik Parens, a research scholar from the Hastings Center, will tackle moral, social, and psychological issues arising from the domain of “personalized medicine” made possible by the new science of genetic sequencing, ranging from genetic markers for Alzheimer’s disease to non-invasive prenatal testing to human-enhancement technologies.


Other specialists will bring a wealth of practical experience and creative ideas to managing Hong Kong’s oncoming “silver tsunami” – people like Dr. Ng Wai Chong, who developed a mobile health care delivery system to bring health care into the homes of the elderly in Singapore; or Dr. Robert Klitzman, of Columbia University, who has written a series of powerful books on medical ethics and the impact of genetic diagnosis on human identity; or Michael Dunn, a young bioethicist at the Ethox Center at Oxford University who worked in a nursing home as part of his research on the ethics of community-based and long-term support for vulnerable adults.


The conference will serve to launch the new CUHK Centre for Bioethics, which worked with the leading independent bioethics research institute in the United States, the Hastings Center, to develop the two-day program. Opening the conference will be CUHK Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Joseph J.Y. Sung and Dr. Wing Man Ko, Secretary for Food and Health of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR. A related event, co-organized by CUHK and the Asia Society, features a talk by Dr. Robert Klitzman, “Are We Our Genes: Mixing Species in Science and Art,” at 6:30-8:30 pm on January 8, 2015. The first 50 tickets will be free by registering with the CUHK Centre for Bioethics via or Tel. 3943 9876.


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