Dr Tom Hiu Tung Cheung, Assistant Professor of the Division of Life Science, and Dr Kam Tuen Law, Assistant Professor of the Department of Physics at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) were honored the prestigious Croucher Innovation Awards 2015 by the Croucher Foundation for their distinguished scientific research achievements. Each award carries a value of up to HK$5 million over five years. The presentation ceremony held today was officiated by Mr John Tsang Chun-wah, GBM, JP, Financial Secretary of the HKSAR Government.
Dr Cheung’s main research area focuses on somatic stem cell biology. His laboratory is interested in understanding the molecular regulation of stem cell quiescence and activation and how these signaling pathways play a role in tissue regeneration as well as stem cell ageing. Using skeletal muscle stem cell as a model system, his research team is currently attempting to decipher the molecular pathways that are essential for muscle stem cell function and the regulation of stem cell ageing. The long-term goal of his laboratory is to achieve better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of why tissue regeneration is impaired during ageing and devise therapies for aged-associated diseases using regenerative medicine.
“Better understanding of the process of biological ageing is key to improving health and longevity in modern society. With this generous funding provided by the Croucher Foundation, our research projects aim to provide insights towards translational research that will result in new intervention to ameliorate age-related diseases and therefore will minimize the demand for medical service of our ageing population”, Dr Cheung said.
Dr Cheung received his Bachelor and PhD degree in biochemistry from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2001 and 2006 respectively. He was awarded the First Generation Scholarship by the University of Coloradoat Boulder in 1998-2001 and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Pre-doctoral Fellowship by National Institutes of Health in the United States in 2003-2006. Since 2006, Dr Cheung has been a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences of School of Medicine at Stanford University, where his research area was focused on somatic stem cell biology. He joined the Division of Life Science at HKUST in 2013.
The other Croucher Innovation Award recipient, Dr Law, is a condensed matter theorist. His research focuses on the study of exotic states of matter such as fractional Quantum Hall states, topological insulators, topological superconductors, and low dimensional superconductors. In particular, Dr Law has published a number of works in recent years on the realization and detection of topological superconductors, which have potential applications in making quantum computers and spintronic devices. Some of his theoretical predictions have been used to explain the results of several key experiments on the detection of topological superconductors. Dr Law received the Award jointly with Dr Shizhong Zhang of the Hong Kong University. In addition to the Award, an allowance of HK$1.8 million will also be provided to Dr Law and Dr Zhang for their joint initiatives in organizing international conferences and workshops in Hong Kong.
“The award will provide a stable source of funding for me to form an internationally competitive condensed matter theory research group in Hong Kong, in which high quality research can be conducted, and students and postdocs can be trained to be mature researchers with ample international exposure. The extra allowance will also help bring in top researchers from all over the world to share their insights and new discoveries”, Dr Law said.
Dr Law joined the Department of Physics at HKUST in 2011. He graduated from HKUST in 2003, and received his PhD degree from Brown University in 2008, where he was awarded the Dissertation Fellowship and the Anthony Houghton Award for Theoretical Physics. He was the first joint postdoctoral fellow of HKUST Jockey Club Institute for Advanced Study and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2008 and became the Croucher Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT in 2009-2011. He was awarded the School of Science Research Award in 2014 for his research projects conducted at HKUST.
Established in 2012, the Croucher Innovation Awards aim to identify a small number of exceptionally talented scientists working at an internationally competitive level and to offer substantial support to these “rising stars” at a formative stage in their careers. The scheme is designed to enable recipients to pursue their own scientific, intellectual and professional inclinations, to advance their expertise, to engage in bold new work, and to contribute to the development of education and research in Hong Kong.
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