Newsletter No. 233

Two Professorial Inaugural Lectures T wo members of the Faculty of Medicine delivered their professorial inaugural lectures at the Postgraduate Education Centre of the Prince of Wales Hospital last month. Prof. Anthony Yim: The Cutting Edge Prof. Anthony P.C. Yim, professor of surgery and chief of cardiothoracic surgery, delivered his inaugural lecture entitled 'The Cutting Edge' on 12th December 2003. Prof. Yim dedicated the lecture, which had been postponed from March 2003, to the frontline healthcare workers who fought against SARS. The lecture focussed on a few major issues facing surgery in Hong Kong today, in particular cardiothoracic surgery. These included changes in the gender mix of surgeons, ageing of the population, and advances in surgical technology. The number of female students reading medicine has risen from just over 10 per cent of total medical students at CUHK in 1981 to almost two-thirds two decades later. Prof. Yim believes that the future of the profession depends, to a great extent, on how well female surgeons are integrated into a traditionally male-dominated specialty. On the other hand, the elderly population in Hong Kong has been on the rise at a fairly consistent annual rate of 5.5 per cent over the last four decades. Prof. Yim pointed out that geriatric surgery demands refinement of surgical technique and technology as well as meticulous perioperative care. New surgical approaches such as minimally invasive surgery are important for older patients, while innovations in computer-assisted surgery and simulation technology open up new vistas for surgical training. The current budgetary deficit, uncertain career prospects, and perceived diminished training opportunities present major challenges to the surgical profession. Prof. Yim is of the view that the specialty's future depends on its members' tenacity to create opportunity out of adversity. Cardiothoracic surgery in Hong Kong already has an international reputation for excellence, he said. He urged Hong Kong's surgeons to focus on the world and continue building on their strength for the benefit of future generations of surgeons and for their patients. Prof. Woo Kam-sang: How Hard Is Your Artery? Prof. Woo Kam-sang, professor of medicine and therapeutics, delivered an inaugural lecture entitled 'How Hard Is Your Artery' on 17th December 2003. In his lecture, Prof. Woo explained why, although 70 per cent of Chinese males smoke, coronary artery disease is only 20 per cent as prevalent in southern China as it is in the West. He also showed that subclinical atherosclerosis in westernized Chinese is associated with more atherogenic dietary patterns, job stress, and western acculturation. Moreover cigarette-smoking, lipids, ageing and hypercholesterolaemia have a greater effect on subclinical atherosclerosis in modernized societies than in rural settings in China. In other words, the way of life in a rural village provides relative protection against the condition while modernization is associated with higher risk of developing it. Prof. Woo also discussed how folic acid supplementation can improve the impaired vascular function of patients with high toxic amino acid, a novel atherosclerotic risk factor. NIH Helps Train CUHK Postgraduates T he D e p a r t m e n t o f Biochemistry is j o i n t ly offering a Graduate Partnerships Programme (GPP) w i t h the National Institute of Child Health and H uman D e v e l o p m e nt (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the United States. The programme w i ll lead to a Ph.D. degree to be awarded by The Chinese University. CUHK is the NIH's first and only Asian partner for the programme. Prof. Owen Renne r t, d i r e c t or o f NICHD, came to the University to sign the partnership agreement on 12th December 2003. N I H, which has partnered wi th many important institutions such as Boston University, John Hopkins University, and Oxford University, has been training over 200 graduate students in its laboratories. The programme not only provides excellent training for CUHK students, but also signifies a closer relationship between the department and the world's most prestigious biomedical research establishment. (From left) Prof. Walter Ho (Biochemistry, CUHK), Prof. Kenneth Young (CUHK), Ms. Ida Cheung (GPP candidate), Ms. Jenny Cheung (GPP candidate), Prof. Owen Rennert, and Prof. W.Y. Chan (principal investigator, NICHD) at the signing ceremony President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences on China's Space Probe P rof. Lu Yongxiang, president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, gave a lecture on aeronautical and aerospace development in China on 6th December 2003 at the T.Y. Wong Ha ll in the Ho Sin-Hang Engineering Building. Prof. Lu is vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. He has served as the p r es i dent o f the Chinese Academy of Sciences since 1997 and has been actively promoting the development of scientific research and education on the mainland. Prof. Lu has very close ties with academics and scientists in Hong Kong. He has served as a member of the University Grants Committee, and as a special adviser to the Innovation and Technology Commission of the HKSAR since 1999. He was awarded the honorary doctorate of science by The Chinese University at its 60th congregation held on 4th December 2003. Support for Five Research Projects T he following five research projects undertaken by faculty members of the University have attracted funding support from different quarters: • Enrichment Programme for Young Mathematics Talents (HK$1,500,000) Sponsor: Quality Education Fund Principal investigator: Prof. Au Kwok-keung (Department of Mathematics) • Support Programme for the Teaching and Learning of Liberal Studies (HK$227,000) Sponsor. Quality Education Fund Principal investigator. Prof. Stephen Chiu (Department of Sociology) • Multi-school Collaboration in the Information Technology for Hong Kong Flora and Vegetation (HK$1,938,000) Sponsor. Quality Education Fund Principal investigator. Prof. But Put-hay (Department of Biology) • The Building and Operation of a Ground Receiving Station of the ENVISAT Radar Remote Sensing Satellite for All-weather Environmental Monitoring (HK$13,152,000) Sponsor: Innovation and Technology Fund Principal investigator: Prof. L i n Hui (Joint Laboratory for Geoinformation Science) • Expression of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor and Its Corresponding Receptors in the Human Oviduct: Modulation During the Menstrual Cycle (HK$30,208) Sponsor: Hong Kong Obstetrical and Gynaecological Trust Fund Principal investigator: Dr. Lam Po-mui (Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology) Brains Gather at Brain 2003 A bout 170 healthcare professionals of diverse disciplines attended Brain 2003, the first scientific meeting of the Clinical Neuroscience Group of the University at the Postgraduate Education Centre of the Prince of Wales Hospital on 5th and 6th December 2003. The meeting was organized by the Departments of Anatomical and Cellular Pathology, Surgery (Neurosurgery), Medicine (Neurology), Clinical Oncology, and Diagnostic Radiology and Organ Imaging. It was cosponsored by the Hong Kong Neurosurgical Society, the Hong Kong Neurological Society, and the International Academy of Pathology (Hong Kong Division). This was the first ever conference in Hong Kong that was coorganized by all medical specialties involved in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with neurological diseases. Topics covered included spinal cord diseases, molecular neurooncology, and stroke. Prof. Wise Young, professor of neuroscience at the State University of New Jersey at Rutgers, delivered a keynote lecture on the use of olfactory ensheathing cells as a possible means of transplant after spinal cord injury. 2 No. 233 4th January 2004