(Hong Kong, 7 September 2007) Dr Li Ka-shing said today at the opening of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences that his gifts to the institute are dedicated to all the men and women who have committed to the defense of health and to the well- being of mankind.
In addition to the HKD100 million given to the institute in 2005, Li Ka-shing Foundation also announced today the establishment of the second Li Ka-shing Professorship. The first was held by Dr Dennis Lo who also serves as the Director of the Institute. CUHK Vice-Chancellor has nominated Professor Hsiao-chang Chan, Professor of Physiology and Director of Epithelial Cell Biology Research Centre to be the endowed professor for this HKD20 million new professorship.
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, Dr Li called for seamless collaboration between academia, industry and government if we want to capitalize on the momentum of fast pace development in biotechnology.
He said, “The innovative nature of drug research and development to decipher and utilize advanced knowledge from the broad spectrum of life sciences research relies heavily on intense collaboration between industry and academia. It depends on far-sighted investments as well as resources and policy support from the government.”
He quoted 19th century renowned scientist Louis Pasteur’s appeal to Napoleon III “Physicists and chemists without laboratories are like soldiers without arms on the battlefield.”
He also shared the famous sad story of the chemist-healer with the 10-year-old Louise Pelletier to articulate the importance of empathy to the patients. He said being ill can be a very lonely journey and no one can truly understand the isolation, uncertainty of illness and the unyielding pain.
“We must strive to be intuitive and empathetic, bringing relevance and courage in a time of weakness and vulnerability,” said Dr Li. “It is my hope that we see compassion as something beyond feeling – that we couple it with a sense of duty to each other. In this way, we will be more aware of others – of their perspective – and strive to do what is appropriate and right.”
Also speaking at the ceremony, Prof. Lawrence J. Lau, Vice-Chancellor of CUHK, said, “The Chinese University is very honoured to have received this generous support of our clinical and health science research from Dr Li Ka-shing and his Foundation. This donation affirms the achievements of our medical team and injects tremendous momentum into their research efforts. The Foundation has agreed to fund the second Li Ka-shing Professorship. On behalf of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, I would like to thank Dr Li once again and I look forward to receiving his continuous support and advice.”
Professor Hsiao-chang Chan is a leading authority in epithelial cell-related multidisciplinary research and has contributed significantly to a number of important discoveries, including a cell shrinkage-activated cation channel, a novel defensin molecule in the epididymis for sperm maturation and the role of a cell membrane protein, the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), in fertility and infertility.
These discoveries have not only shed lights on the understanding of how epithelial secretions affect our bodily functions, reproduction in particular, but also provided leads to the development of new strategies for diagnosis and treatment of infertility as well as for contraception. Professor Chan has received a number of prestigious awards including National Natural Sciences Award of China in 1997, Distinguished Young Investigator Award by the National Natural Science Foundation of China in 2000 and Croucher Senior Research Fellow 2007-2008.
A distinguishing feature of the Li Ka-shing Institute of Health Sciences is the innovative and interdisciplinary approach emphasizing research projects that aimed at translating advances in basic and molecular sciences into tests and treatments that will benefit patients and promote health.
Also attending today’s ceremony were Council Chairman of CUHK Dr Edgar Cheng, Chairman of the Hospital Authority Mr Anthony Wu, Chief Executive of the Hospital Authority Mr Shane Solomon, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of CUHK Professor Tai-fai Fok and Director of the Li Ka-shing Institute of Health Sciences Professor Dennis Lo.