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Hong Kong scientists receive State Natural Science Awards
     Hong Kong scientists have again received significant recognition, with local researchers winning six second-class State Natural Science Awards (SNSAs) in 2016. This was announced by the National Office for Science and Technology Awards in Beijing today (January 9).

     The Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng, said, "The awards received by the Hong Kong researchers highlight our excellent capabilities in basic and applied research, and serve as motivation to their fellow researchers. We congratulate the awardees on their achievements and hope they will continue to scale new heights in their research.

     "As first proposed in the 2015 Policy Address, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government has been making every effort to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education. The Report on Promotion of STEM Education - Unleashing Potential in Innovation, released at the end of last year, has set out six strategies, covering resources, curricula, professional capacity, collaboration, good practice dissemination and community contributions."

     Mr Ng said he believed that Hong Kong's outstanding scientists could make contributions to this aspect, fostering more talented young people in the future.

     The SNSAs are one of five categories of awards under the State Science and Technology Awards (SSTAs) organised by the State Council. As China's most prestigious award in the field of natural science, the SNSAs aim to reward individuals and organisations for academic excellence in basic and applied research in natural science.

     Two of the six projects which won second-class awards in the 2016 SNSAs were nominated by the HKSAR Government. Details are as follows:

     Professor Qian Peiyuan of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) was awarded for his research project on "Chemical (Compounds) Signal Production of Biofilm in Response to Environmental Changes: Its Impact on Initial Colonization of Marine Benthos and Ecosystem Structure and Functionality". Other core team members included Professor Xu Ying, Dr Wang Yong and Dr He Lisheng of HKUST.
     Previous similar studies had focused on how environmental changes directly affect marine benthic ecosystems but overlooked how environmental changes can affect marine benthos indirectly by changing biofilm on the marine surface. The project established the bridging function of marine surface biofilm between marine environmental changes and marine benthic ecosystems, revealed that environmental chemical signals are a key process through which biofilm regulates the structure of benthic ecosystems, and deciphered the molecular mechanism by which marine benthos responds to environmental chemical signals produced by biofilm.

     Professor Joseph Sung of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) was awarded for his research project on "Integrative Research on Molecular Pathogenesis, Diagnostic Biomarkers and Prevention for Colorectal Cancer". Other core team members included Professor Yu Jun, Professor William Wu, Professor Simon Ng and Professor Francis Chan of CUHK.
     The project has been conducting systematic research on the epidemiology, screening, molecular pathogenesis and biomarker discovery for colorectal cancer (CRC) for 15 years and achieved several breakthroughs, including (1) identifying the epidemiology and risk factors of CRC, and formulating guidelines on CRC screening; (2) unveiling for the first time the mutational landscape and polyclonal origin of CRC in the Chinese population and discovering new fusion genes and high-frequency mutated genes; (3) identifying novel epigenetic alterations and signalling pathway dysregulation in CRC; and (4) identifying novel biomarkers for non-invasive diagnosis of CRC.
     The other four projects which won second-class awards in the 2016 SNSAs were nominated by institutions/experts on the Mainland. These research projects are "Adaptive and High-Order Numerical Methods and Their Analysis" conducted by Professor Tang Tao of Hong Kong Baptist University, and three projects in which local researchers participated. They are "Biomics-based Identification, Prevention and Control of Environmental Health Hazards of High-Risk Pollutants" involving Professor Zhang Tong of the University of Hong Kong, "Study on the Theories and Methodologies of Image Structure Modeling and Refactoring of Visual Appearance" involving Dr Tao Dacheng of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and "Complex Network Synchronization, Control and Identification Theories and Methodologies" involving Professor Chen Guanrong of City University of Hong Kong.

     The HKSAR Government was invited by the National Office for Science and Technology Awards to submit nominations from Hong Kong, which were co-ordinated by the Education Bureau with the help of the Hong Kong Research Grants Council and the Beijing-Hong Kong Academic Exchange Centre.
Ends/Monday, January 9, 2017
Issued at HKT 17:03
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