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https://www.med.cuhk.edu.hk/press-releases/cuhk-professor-siew-ng-is-the-first-female-clinician-scientist-in-mainland-china-selected-as-a-new-cornerstone-investigator
https://www.med.cuhk.edu.hk/press-releases/cuhk-professor-siew-ng-is-the-first-female-clinician-scientist-in-mainland-china-selected-as-a-new-cornerstone-investigator
CUHK Professor Siew Ng is the first female clinician-scientist in mainland China selected as a New Cornerstone Investigator; New Cornerstone Science Laboratory inaugurated to dissect diet-microbiome interactions to improve human health

CUHK Professor Siew Ng is the first female clinician-scientist in mainland China selected as a New Cornerstone Investigator; New Cornerstone Science Laboratory inaugurated to dissect diet-microbiome interactions to improve human health

Professor Siew Ng from The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)’s Faculty of Medicine (CU Medicine) is the first female clinician-scientist selected as a New Cornerstone Investigator in mainland China. She is also the first scholar in Hong Kong to receive this honour in the field of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. The New Cornerstone Science Laboratory, under Professor Ng’s leadership, will dissect the complex Da Vinci Code underlying food, microbes and immunity, and bring hope for the development of novel therapeutic targets for chronic inflammation, cancer and immune-mediated diseases.

 

Group photo with the guests

CUHK holds the unveiling ceremony of the New Cornerstone Science Laboratory, which is under the leadership of Professor Siew Ng at CU Medicine.

 

Featured in the group photo are Professor John Chai (6th from right), CUHK Council Chairman; Dr Ronald Lam (4th from right), Director of Health of HKSAR government; the Hon Duncan Chiu (3rd from right), Legislative Council Member (Technology and Innovation Constituency); Professor Alan K.L. Chan (5th from left), Provost of CUHK; Ms Rose Wang (5th from right), Vice Chair and Secretary General of New Cornerstone Science Foundation; Professor Philip Chiu (4th from left), Dean of Medicine; Professor Francis Chan (3rd from left), Choh-Ming Li Professor of Medicine and Therapeutics; Professor Siew Ng (6th from left), the New Cornerstone Investigator; Mr Ethan Kwok (2nd from left), Deputy Director of the Greater Bay Area Public Affairs Department of Tencent; Mr Frank Ma (1st from left), Project Director of the New Cornerstone Science Foundation; Mr James Li (2nd from right), Vice President of Public Affairs of Tencent; and Mr Zhou Chuanghua (1st from right), Deputy Secretary-General of the New Cornerstone Science Foundation.

 

New laboratory focuses on the human immunoregulatory mechanisms against food antigens

 

Guests at the New Cornerstone Science Laboratory unveiling ceremony included Professor John Chai, CUHK Council Chairman; Dr Ronald Lam, Director of Health in the Hong Kong government; the Hon Duncan Chiu, Legislative Council Member (Technology and Innovation Constituency); Professor Alan K.L. Chan, Provost of CUHK; Ms Rose Wang, Vice Chair and Secretary General of New Cornerstone Science Foundation; Professor Philip Chiu, Dean of Medicine; Professor Francis Chan, Choh-Ming Li Professor of Medicine and Therapeutics; Mr James Li, Vice President of Public Affairs of Tencent; and Professor Ng.

 

Professor Chai remarked at the ceremony, “I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the New Cornerstone Science Foundation for generously supporting Professor Siew Ng’s research and for bestowing this prestigious award on her and providing her with the necessary resources in pursuit of her innovative ideas. This ceremony not only acknowledges Professor Ng’s remarkable accomplishments but also serves as a testament to CUHK’s unwavering commitment to fostering groundbreaking research and advancing the frontiers of knowledge. We firmly believe that research plays a pivotal role in driving societal progress and transforming lives. Professor Ng’s groundbreaking research will bring significant advancements in diagnosis and treatment in the field of the gut microbiome, benefiting the lives of countless patients worldwide.”

 

Dr Lam said, “The Government is determined to seize the opportunity to develop Hong Kong into a health and medical innovation hub. With the establishment of the Centre for Medical Products Regulation, the launch of the new policy of ‘primary evaluation’ that will enhance our drug regulatory regime and our biomedicine development ecosystem, the setting up of a one-stop clinical trial support platform in the Hetao Shenzhen-Hong Kong Science and Technology Innovation Co-operation Zone, I believe Hong Kong stands ready to become the centre of ‘bringing in’ and ‘going global’ for health and medical innovations. With the New Cornerstone Science Laboratory serving as a springboard for future research breakthroughs, a new chapter of scientific endeavor awaits.”

 

The Hon Duncan Chiu added, “Hong Kong has strong scientific research capabilities. As the Chairman of the Steering Committee of the RAISe+ Scheme, I have reviewed many excellent research projects from local universities, which fills me with anticipation for Hong Kong’s innovation and technological development. The inauguration of the New Cornerstone Science Laboratory also demonstrates that local university scholars can have impressive achievements in basic research, which help translate the research findings into clinical applications. I hope there will be more research talent and projects receiving support from the community, industry and the Government, to realise Hong Kong’s determination to develop into an international innovation and technology centre.”

 

Professor John Chai and Professor Siew Ng present a souvenir to Ms Rose Wang (centre).

Professor John Chai and Professor Siew Ng present a souvenir to Ms Rose Wang (centre). 

 Ms Wang stated, “Congratulations to Professor Siew Ng on being selected as a 2023 New Cornerstone Investigator. She is not only the first female New Cornerstone Investigator in Hong Kong, but also the first female physician-scientist across China in The Program. The New Cornerstone Science Foundation is currently China’s largest non-governmental and non-profit funding organisation providing support in the field of basic science. It was founded in 2022 with an initial donation of 10 billion RMB (approximately 1.4 billion USD) from Tencent. The principle of the New Cornerstone Investigator Program is ‘People, not Projects’. It focuses on original basic research, supporting curiosity-driven, free exploration. The project cycles are long, and the funding amounts are large. There are no assessments or evaluations during the funding period, allowing the investigators to freely pursue the research they want to do. The Program insists on an objective and fair review process. In the 2023 round of evaluation, it implemented 100% international peer review to promote fair and objective selection. As a basic research funding project, The Program focuses on exploratory and original work examining disease essence and patterns. It encourages physician-scientists like Professor Siew Ng to pose key scientific questions from clinical practice and achieve major breakthroughs through research.”

 

Prof Siew Ng

Professor Ng delivers a lecture titled “Food, Microbiome and Medicine: My Love Language”. She introduces her work under the New Cornerstone Investigator Program, which focuses on deciphering the immunoregulatory mechanisms of the human body in response to different food antigens.

A milestone in Professor Ng’s career

 

At the unveiling ceremony, Professor Ng delivered a lecture titled “Food, Microbiome and Medicine: My Love Language”. She introduced her work under The Program, which focuses on deciphering the immunoregulatory mechanisms of the human body in response to different food. Professor Ng said, “Scientific breakthroughs are the result of the collective effort of a team, not the merit of any individual. The establishment of the New Cornerstone Science Laboratory is a milestone in my career, and I am deeply grateful to the New Cornerstone Science Foundation for providing the support for us to push forward biomedical science for better human health. This will allow us to explore uncharted territories and translate laboratory findings into clinical applications that will benefit the global community.

 

 

About the New Cornerstone Investigator Program

 

The New Cornerstone Investigator Program is a funding initiative that takes a forward-thinking approach to encouraging basic research spearheaded by leading scientists. The Program funds two major research fields, Mathematics & Physical Sciences and Biological & Biomedical Sciences, and encourages interdisciplinary research. Each investigator will be granted of 25 million RMB (approximately 3.5 million USD) for experimental research or 15 million RMB (approximately 2.1 million USD) for theoretical research over five years. At the end of the term, investigators will be eligible for renewal of funding, contingent upon evaluation and approval. To date, The Program has supported 104 outstanding New Cornerstone Investigators.

 

About 600 leading scientists applied in 2023. After several rounds of rigorous evaluation by national and international experts, 46 were selected, with Professor Siew Ng became the first scholar in Hong Kong selected as a New Cornerstone Investigator in the field of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. She was also the first female clinician-scientist selected in mainland China.

 

Professor Siew Ng’s accomplishments in innovation, technology and academia

 

Professor Siew Ng is a world-renowned researcher of the gut microbiome. Born in Penang, Malaysia, she went to the United Kingdom to study medicine, completing her PhD at Imperial College London in 2009. In 2010, she moved to Hong Kong and joined CU Medicine. Professor Ng is currently the Assistant Dean (Development) of CU Medicine; a Professor in the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics; Associate Director of the Centre for Gut Microbiota Research; and Director of the Microbiota I-Center (MagIC). She has also been appointed the Croucher Professor in Medical Sciences, the very first named professorship bestowed by the Croucher Foundation.

 

Professor Ng first became intrigued with the germs in the gut during her PhD studies and devoted herself to studying Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), a chronic gastrointestinal disease that was then prevalent in the West but virtually unknown in Asia. Since joining CU Medicine, she has led researchers from over 30 countries and regions in the Asia-Pacific region as they study the disease, bringing about a paradigm shift in public health regionally and globally. Professor Ng was the first to define the genetics, epidemiology and potential environmental triggers of IBD in newly industrialised countries.

 

In 2013, she introduced faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) to Hong Kong to treat patients with life-threatening gut infections. Her patented technology, MOZAICTM, which improves the success rate of FMT, is the first microbiome innovation adopted by the local Hospital Authority to provide a territory-wide FMT service in Hong Kong. In 2019, Professor Ng established MagIC as part of the Hong Kong government’s InnoHK initiative, and founded a biotechnology company that focuses on translating innovative microbiome solutions into effective diagnostics and therapeutics.

 

The awards and recognition Professor Siew Ng received over the years include being appointed 2019 Sir Francis Avery Jones Visiting Professor, St Mark’s Hospital; and Joanna and David B. Sachar Visiting Professor, The Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai. She was also awarded the 2014 and 2020 Ministry of Education Higher Education Outstanding Scientific Research Output Award – First-class Award in Natural Sciences, China’s highest honour in the field. She was named a Highly Cited Researcher by Clarivate for four consecutive years, from 2020 to 2023. In 2021, Expertscape listed Professor Ng as one of the world’s top 20 IBD researchers. In 2023, she received the Higher Flyer Innopreneur Award and the Most Popular Innopreneur Award from the Federation of Hong Kong Industries for her outstanding leadership in innovative technology. Recently, she has been elected as a foreign member of the Academia Europaea for her distinguished achievements in the advancement and propagation of excellence in scholarship in medicine, for the betterment of public health.

 

Group photo of all guests at the ceremony.

Group photo of all guests at the ceremony.

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