Newsletter No. 118

2 No. 118 19th December 1997 CUHK Newsletter Symposium takes an anthropological Look at Food The study of food — of culinary tradition, dietary rules, consumption trends, and food as linked to cultural identity — is an important area of contemporary anthropological concern. 'Chinese Foodways in the Twenty-first Century: Prospects of Globalization of Chinese Food and Cuisine', an international symposium organized by the Department of Anthropology and the Foundation of Chinese Culture, took place on 21st and 22nd November to examine Chinese food culture in the global context as well as the context of the study of food and civilization. In two days close to 20 papers were presented on themes ranging from refined Chinese cuisine and the development of fast food, Chinese diaspora and changing Chinese food culture overseas, to Chinese food culture and its relationship with trends of global culture. On the second day of the conference, there was a round table conference wherein renowned anthropologists such as Jack Goody, Sidney W. Mintz, Nancy J. Pollock, and David Y.H. Wu discussed 'Food, Culture and Human Civilization'. Gender Conference Looks at Asia's Women T h e role of women in Asia's fast growing economies was the topic of the International Conference on Gender and Development in Asia, held from 27th to 29th November at the Lecture Theatre of Shaw College. About a hundred participants from Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia, India, North America, England, Australia, and other regions attended the three-day conference. Over 50 papers focusing on three major themes, namely, gender and political development, gender and social change, and gender, sex and violence, were presented. Dr. Fanny Cheung, chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, officiated at the opening ceremony. The keynote speakers were Profs Tani Barlow of the University of Washington, Esther Chow of American University, Elisabeth Croll of the University of London, and Maria Mies from Germany. The conference, the first major one of its kind in Hong Kong, was jointly organized by the Gender Research Programme of the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, the Department of Government and Public Administration, and the Department of Sociology. It was sponsored by Chung Chi College and the Faculty of Social Science. Faculty of Medicine Teaches Safety for Newborns E very year in Hong Kong an estimated 20 babies die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or cot death, and each of these deaths can possibly be prevented. Cot death usually happens during the first six months of life. Although no specific causes have been identified, data suggest that certain western methods of child care, such as letting babies sleep on their stomach, may be risk factors. Avoidance of these risk factors has significantly reduced the number of deaths in many countries. Wi th the aim of promoting understanding of and measures to prevent cot deaths, the Faculty of Medicine organized a briefing on 19th November at the Prince of Wales Hospital. The speakers 一 Profs Joseph Lee, Fok Tai-fai, and Tony Nelson — outlined Hong Kong's SIDS situation and precautions that can be taken to reduce risk. A brochure on ways to prevent cot death has also been produced. Doctor, Teacher, Researcher, and Administrator: New Chair of Orthopaedics and Traumatology Has His Hands Full If ways of expression at interviews are reflective of character, one can surmise that Pro f . Jack Cheng, new chairperson of the Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, is a most systematic and organized person: he has ready and informative answers to every question that can be asked, sometimes even before they are asked. Any Plans for the Department? 'Plans? Oh, we have many plans,' said Prof. Cheng. 'We have a very clear policy ahead of us, that is, to maintain our ties with themainland as well as to establish new ones. The same goes for other Asian countries and the international academic and medical community. Let me also give you a breakdown of plans for the department's major functions: teaching, research, and service and professional development.' Teaching — Undergraduate For undergraduate teaching, Prof. Cheng said the emphasis is on 'personal touch'. Medical students spend eight weeks in two rotations during their clinical years at the department. They form into small groups of three to four, each of which is attached to a senior staff of the department. By joining the staff in their daily routines the students learn, by observation and communication with their mentors, clinical skills, ways of handling and advising patients, and procedures of physical examinations. This year the department has increased the proportion of such training in its undergraduate programme. Why? 'You see,' Prof. Cheng explained, 'the "proper" name of our discipline should be "the study of the muscular skeletal system". This involves a huge spectrum of structures from the feet to hands, the limbs, and along the spine. The diagnosis of diseases depends a lot on accurate physical examinations; clinical skills such as how to elicit and interpret tests are important. The crucial role played by clinical skills is one of the differentiating characteristics of this branch of medicine.' Teaching 一 Postgraduate The department teaches two groups of postgraduates: master's and doctoral students, and clinical fellows receiving professional training in orthopaedics or its sub-specialties. The latter group includes clinical fellows from mainland China and other Asian countries. 'We're very active in this area,' said Prof. Cheng. 'We conducted a three-week advanced orthopaedic training course for orthopaedic surgeons from the mainland last November, the first formal training course of its kind organized by our department. Previously we only gave lectures at medical universities on the mainland. There were some 40 participants, each coming from a good medical university and with at least six or seven years' experience in orthopaedics. Teachers were drawn from different parts of the world. We may continue with this in the years to come.' Research The department has recently set up different teams to take care of different kinds of research. These teams are topped off by a research subcommittee for coordination and supervision purposes. Prof. Cheng is so far pleased with the new arrangement. There are three areas of research, in particular, in which staff members are actively engaged. Osteoporosis is one. While most studies on osteoporosis focus on grown-ups, the department's concern includes children and adolescents. Another area is biomaterial research 一 the application of synthetic material in humans. As Hong Kong does not produce much biomaterial industrially, the department is working with mainland institutions to explore this expanding and promising field. And then there is tissue engineering, often regarded as frontier research in the field of molecular biology. But that is not all. Prof. Cheng himself is the clinical coordinator of a Childhood Injury Prevention Research Group, a multiinstitutional and cross-disciplinary venture involving departments/units in tertiary institutions, hospitals, and the Hospital Authority. The group is collecting data on childhood injury in the home in order to prevent further occurrences. There is also a sports science team in the department which studies a wide range of relationships between sports and physical development. It is important to have community-based research which benefits public health, Prof. Cheng explained. Service and Professional Development Given the demands of teaching and research, what is left of the teachers' doctoring functions and how much time is left for those functions? Medicine is an ever expanding and changing field, Prof. Cheng pointed out. There is no way professional specialists can be good teachers and researchers without being closely involved in clinical service: important ideas on research must originate from observed clinical problems, and research must at the end have potential clinical applications and implications. 'This means we have to be an integral part of the clinical team. And as far as clinical practice is concerned, we don't differentiate between CUHK staff and Hospital Authority staff. We are all doctors first. This will not change in the years to come,' said Prof. Cheng emphatically. Hence, practically every member of the department's academic staff is involved in treating patients in one of the department's eight sub-specialties: sports medicine; spine; hand and micro-surgery; paediatric orthopaedics; spinal injury and rehabilitation; joint reconstruction; musculoskeletal tumour; and trauma. Any More Plans? 'We have to upgrade our information technology — and I do put in a very strong point here. We're working with the Department of Computer Science and Engineering on a programme to improve teaching using multi-media. The uses of information technology are not confined to teaching. It helps research in the form of databases, and also facilitates internal communication. The department is currently creating an Intranet Homepage, which when completed, will allow members to have at their fingertips information on the department's audio-visual collection, staff publications, talks and lectures, research projects, departmental calendar, important memos, and linkages to other centres and homepages related to the department's specialty.' What is the Department's Most Serious Problem? As with most departments at the University, the main problem Prof. Cheng's department is facing is the lack of space. The department is sharing one floor with the Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care. Although it has only 10 academic staff, there are also students and research staff, and more upcoming. 'It' s a deadlock,' Prof. Cheng said. 'We hope that additional buildings can be erected in the hospital complex by the University.' Does the One-line Budget Help? 'It'sa very good thing because it allows departments greater freedom to make personnel and financial arrangements. As for the actual implementation of the budget 一 it's probably not for me to comment. I believe it is improving gradually. On the whole, I find the new system very useful,' said Prof. Cheng. How about Guiding Principles in Management? With so much on his plate, how does Prof. Cheng get everything to work? 'I seem to be making a lot of promises. But in fact many of them are being realized. We're a small department that is continuously expanding and consolidating. We're all busy, working as clinicians, teachers, and researchers. To get the department to work the most important thing is communication. We have three subcommittees: teaching, research, and information technology. During the weekly staff meeting, they report what they've done, and try to seek the endorsement of the whole department for their recommendations. Everything is transparent here. Decisions are made collectively. As the chairperson, I only coordinate and supervise.' Piera Chen