Faculty of Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Dean's Remarks

Dean's Remarks

Message from the Dean of Science

Welcome to the Science Faculty 60th Anniversary Distinguished Science Lecture cum Research Day 2023 at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) on 11 June 2023. As part of the Faculty’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, we established the 60th Anniversary Distinguished Science Lecture Series in 2023. We are so honoured and pleased to have world-renowned leading scholars, Prof. Randy SCHEKMAN and Prof. David DRUBIN from the University of California, Berkeley to deliver Distinguished Science Lectures cum Research Day Keynote Lectures on their scientific breakthroughs and discoveries in life sciences, as well as sharing their insights into scientific research.

Prof. Randy Schekman of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB), UC Berkeley, is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). He studied the enzymology of DNA replication as a graduate student with Arthur Kornberg at Stanford University. His current interest in cellular membranes developed during a postdoctoral period with S. J. Singer at the University of California, San Diego. Schekman’s laboratory investigates the mechanism of membrane protein traffic in the secretory pathway in eukaryotic cells. In recent years his lab has turned to aspects of vesicular traffic in human cells, most recently on the biogenesis and sorting of small RNAs into extracellular vesicles. Among his awards are the Gairdner International Award, the Albert Lasker Award in Basic Medical Research and the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which he shared with James Rothman and Thomas Südhof. From 2006-2011 he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Proceedings of the NAS. In 2011, he founded and until 2019 served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Open Access journal, eLife, sponsored by the HHMI, Wellcome Trust and the Max Planck Society. Beginning in 2018, Schekman assumed a leadership role in an effort supported by the Sergey Brin Family Foundation to identify and support basic research on the mechanisms of Parkinson’s Disease initiation and progression (https://parkinsonsroadmap.org).

Prof. David Drubin has served on the faculty at UC Berkeley for 35 years, where he holds the Ernette Comby Chair in Microbiology. His research combines live cell imaging, molecular and cell biology, genetics, biochemistry and mathematical modelling. The primary focuses of his research are the cytoskeleton and membrane trafficking.  He studies these processes in budding yeast, human cells and zebrafish.  In recent years, he has begun to use genome-edited human stem cells for investigations of how the cytoskeleton and membrane trafficking events are altered during differentiation to serve the specific biological demands of the differentiated cells. Through collaboration with Fyodor Urnov and his colleagues at Sangamo Biosciences, Drubin’s lab became the first to use genome editing to express fluorescent fusion proteins at native levels in human cells to avoid perturbing the processes being investigated. He has served as Editor-in-Chief of the American Society for Cell Biology’s research journal, Molecular Biology of the Cell, as Chair of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and as Head of the MCB Department’s Division of Cell and Developmental Biology and Graduate Programme at UC Berkeley. Among the awards he has received are the Searle Scholar Award, the American Cancer Society Faculty Research Award, the Ira Herskowitz Award, an NIH Merit Award, and election to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for Advancement to Science. He is a fellow of the American Society for Cell Biology and a Senior Investigator at the Allen Institute for Cell Science.

Prof. Schekman’s and Prof. Drubin’s Distinguished Science Lectures will also serve as the keynotes for the Faculty Research Day 2023. Our Faculty of Science at CUHK organises a Research Day annually where researchers gather to learn new scientific advances, exchange ideas and explore research collaboration within and beyond the Faculty and CUHK. The Faculty has also conducted the Research Day online in the past three years when there were strict measures of COVID-19 pandemic control. Now Hong Kong is back to normal in 2023 and we are very pleased to have two of the 60th Anniversary Distinguished Science Lectures cum Research Day 2023 conducted as an in-person event with the theme of “Learning from Academicians” this very special year. We have invited seven active researchers to discuss their recent work at the Faculty Research Day 2023, and they represent our academic staff in all the teaching units across the Faculty, including Prof. CHOW Hei Man Kim and Prof. ZHUANG Xiaohong in life sciences, Prof. XIA Jiang in chemistry, Prof. LUI Lok Ming Ronald in mathematics, Prof. WU Yilin in physics, Prof. LIN Zhixiang in statistics, and Prof. TAI Pui Kuen Amos in earth and environmental sciences. They will share their interdisciplinary research and also present their perspectives for linking various backgrounds with biological problems.

CUHK is committed to encouraging faculty members to build research collaborations with the vision of advancing the frontiers of science and technology. The Science Faculty Research Day serves as a platform to exchange ideas from recent research advances and to encourage collaborative research across different disciplines. The scientific breakthrough is frequently enhanced by interdisciplinary research collaboration among people with diverse expertise but complementary perspectives. Our Faculty has also identified seven interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research areas in the Faculty Strategic Planning in 2020-2021 which have also been incorporated in three of the four theme areas in the CUHK Strategic Plan 2021-2025. The Faculty has also developed and implemented a cross-disciplinary collaborative seed grant scheme in 2020-2021. Through collaborative efforts of our researchers over the past five years, the Faculty has successfully developed 9 Collaborative Research Fund (CRF) projects, 1 Young Collaborative Research Grant (YCRG) project and secured 3 Area of Excellence (AoE) projects funded by the Research Grants Council (RGC) in Hong Kong.

We hope the presentations and discussions around the theme of “Learning from Academicians” at the Science Faculty 60th Anniversary Distinguished Science Lecture cum Research Day 2023 will stimulate our staff and students both within and beyond the Science Faculty at CUHK to be more open-minded, think outside the box, and strive for excellence through collaborative efforts; will further promote original, creative and innovative research and collaboration, especially in interdisciplinary collaborative research at CUHK Science. Undoubtedly this special and exciting event will foster the Faculty’s initiatives to promote discussion between researchers in different disciplines and Units towards more interdisciplinary collaborative research and development.

I look forward to a stimulating day of learning with lively discussion and hope all participants will enjoy this exciting event and benefit from this rare opportunity of learning from world leaders.

Prof. Chunshan SONG

Dean of Science and Wei Lun Professor of Chemistry