CUHK receives HK$150 million donation from Li Ka Shing Foundation in support of research and development of biomedical technologies
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has received a generous donation of HK$150 million from the Li Ka Shing Foundation. The donation will be supported by funding and in-kind contributions at CUHK to establish a development fund valued at $300 million in the Faculty of Medicine (CU Medicine) to support research and development in biomedical technology.
An ageing population is burdening many of the world’s healthcare systems. At the same time, infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and the fallout from the pandemic are posing imminent threats to global health. To cope with these pressing challenges, it is imperative to strengthen medical research and accelerate the translation of scientific discoveries into clinical applications.
In view of this, CU Medicine has launched the Passion for Perfection (P for P) Scheme with the primary goal of accelerating the process of translating laboratory discovery into patient care—often referred to as a “bench to bedside” process, resulting in medical advances and improved human health. The P for P scheme will also strengthen and protect innovations and intellectual property development, and facilitate entrepreneurship at CUHK, leading to the enhancement and improvement of healthcare in Hong Kong.
During a meeting with the Chairman of the Foundation, Dr. Li Ka-shing, last Friday (17 June), Professor John Y. Chai, Council Chairman of CUHK, said, “We deeply appreciate the generous donation of HK$150 million made by the Li Ka Shing Foundation to support new translational biomedical research projects in the Faculty of Medicine. This donation will play an important role in ensuring that CUHK’s commitment to innovation in biomedicine continues to bridge the gap between basic science and clinical applications, which means more people from across society will benefit from cutting-edge research.”
Professor Rocky S. Tuan, Vice-Chancellor and President of CUHK, added, “Biomedical research and biotechnology development represent the driver of discoveries and best practices to improve quality of life, essential to societal well-being and economic prosperity in Hong Kong, the nation, and the world. We are deeply grateful to the Li Ka Shing Foundation for its generous donation to CUHK. This magnanimous gift will empower CUHK to build on its world class strengths in innovative biomedicine, a key pillar of our 2021-25 Strategic Plan that aims for “Excellence with Purpose and Responsibility”, to break new grounds in frontier biomedical research and translational developments to transform patient care and public health.”
At the meeting, Professor Anthony Chan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of CUHK, explained how CUHK plans to use the money. He said, “With the support of this donation, CU Medicine will launch an innovative “Passion for Perfection” (P for P) scheme, providing funding to support projects that have the potential to develop useful new diagnostic tools or therapeutic approaches. CU Medicine will also strengthen its existing clinical trial centre to facilitate clinical evaluation of these new tools and accelerate the translation of basic research outputs into clinical applications, thereby enhancing our translational clinical research.”
Specifically, two initiatives will be undertaken:
1. Development of Prototypes of New Diagnostic or Therapeutic Approaches
A new funding scheme will be launched to support research on novel diagnostic tools that will enable patients to seek early medical treatment and significantly improve their chances of recovery. Research on the development of advanced therapeutic products, particularly those based on novel modalities such as cellular, genetic, and biologic agents, will also be supported. A sustainable innovation ecosystem will be in place to promote establishment of start-ups such that outstanding research outcomes can be translated and commercialised.
2. Enhancement of Infrastructure to Facilitate Clinical Validation of the New Approaches
Clinical evaluation in relevant patient cohorts is a key step to bring new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to routine clinical use. To expedite the “bench to bedside” process, a dedicated team will be established in the existing clinical trial centre, responsible for patient recruitment, clinical evaluation and timely reporting of patient progress, and monitoring of safety and emerging ethical issues. The goal is to increase the speed and efficiency of translating research discoveries to advances in patient care.
Professor Francis Chan, Dean of Medicine at CUHK, said, “Since its establishment 40 years ago, the Faculty has been upholding the core value of patient-centeredness and actively improving the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases through medical research. Our ultimate goal is that our discoveries in research can be practically applied in ways that matter to patients. The generous donation from Dr. Li Ka-shing and the Foundation has greatly enhanced our capability in this translational journey, allowing us to develop world-changing medical technologies for the benefit of patients and the well-being of humankind”.
Over the years, the Li Ka Shing Foundation has actively supported the development of medical education and research at CUHK. As early as 2005, it donated generously to support the establishment of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences at CUHK. Since then, the Foundation has continued to make substantial donations to support a number of CUHK research units and departments, including the Institute for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine and CU Medicine, totalling more than HK$400 million, which has been an essential source of support enabling researchers to develop cutting edge medical solutions and pioneer new approaches to healthcare.