2013 Croucher Advanced Study Institutes

27 January 2014

Three Croucher Advanced Study Institutes (ASIs), short courses aimed at improving the knowledge of established scientists, took place in December 2013.

A Croucher ASI on printed technologies was held at the Chinese University of Hong Kong from 9-11 December, while ASIs on chemical biology and disorders of the skeleton took place at the University of Hong Kong from 15-17 December and 16-20 December respectively.

All ASIs involved lectures and workshops conducted by leaders in the topics presented and were well received by participants and speakers alike.

“I have certainly learned a lot. I am a professor in physiology, and I have learned so much about chemical biology in this conference that I can apply (to my primary field),” said Professor Hao Quan from the Department of Physiology, University of Hong Kong, who also gave a short talk on the structural basis for novel post-translational modifications regulated by sirtuins.

This meeting brought together esteemed keynote speakers from all over the world, including Professor Christopher Chang from the University of California, Berkeley, who remarked that he knew “he had to come to this meeting when he saw who else was speaking.”

Chang gave a keynote lecture on molecular imaging, which contributed to the emphasis on front line research in the course that also saw lectures from Professor Benjamin Cravatt from the Scripps Research Institute and Professor Ben G. Davis from the University of Oxford, among others.

At the ASI on disorders of the skeleton, Professor Matthew Warman, from the Children’s Hospital in Boston, USA, who gave a lecture on genetic diseases of the skeleton that are not hereditary, was full of praise for the level of interaction between speakers and participants.

In his opinion, the exclusivity of the conference, with its small number of participants, allowed for students to capitalise on one-to-one interaction with and learning from the speakers.

“For example, at the poster session, I could really give insights based on having done this for 20 years, and conversely, I’m learning from the posters that are relevant to my own work,” he said.

This five-day course intended to educate researchers in the region on the potential of using whole genome sequencing in the identification of disease genes, and function analyses to address the molecular and cellular consequences, leading to the formulation of potential therapeutic treatments.

According to the director of the course, Professor Danny Chan of the University of Hong Kong, he also aimed to encourage collaborative activity between Hong Kong and mainland China through the ASI, by bringing in key mainland researchers in skeletal biology to Hong Kong for the conference.

Finally, the ASI on printed technologies boasted almost 200 participants from all over the world, mostly from Asia, Europe and North America. Among them, over half were from mainland China, and over a third from Hong Kong.

It was also dedicated to Professor Sir Charles Kao, former Vice-Chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, in honour of his contributions to the university and internet communications.

He served as the guest-of-honour at the event that aimed to further understanding of cutting edge printed technologies research and focused on “high performance electron devices and high efficiency solar cells on flexible substrates through the use of advanced semi conducting materials and fabrication methodologies.”

ASI Director, Professor Xu Jian-Bin, from the University of Hong Kong, emphasised the importance of continued practical research in printed technologies, especially in Hong Kong.

“From the information that we collected in the workshop, (While there have been very impressive advances in academia), we still believe that the technology is still premature for immediate industrial applications,” he said.

For more information of the Croucher Advanced Study Institutes, please click here.