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Areas of Excellence Scheme - 2nd Round

Second Round Exercise

  • Molecular Neuroscience: Basic Research & Drug Discovery
    • Total Funding Approved : HK$54.3M (HK$26.8M (2001-2006) + HK$27.5M Sustained Funding (2007-2011))
    • Indicative Project Time-Frame : 2001 - 2011
    • Co-ordinating Institution : The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Prof Nancy Ip)

    Neuro-related diseases and disorders such as neurodegenerative diseases, stroke and dementia typically affect the elderly. Over the past decade, however, the incidence of these ailments in Hong Kong and other developed countries has greatly increased due to longer life expectancies. Therefore, the development of effective therapeutic drugs to treat diseases and disorders of the brain is of high importance.

    A cross-institutional Area of Excellence (AoE) research project led by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology was awarded in 2001 to push the frontiers of neuroscience research with the goal of developing therapeutic treatments. Cutting-edge research was undertaken and a unique drug development approach based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was established. The combined efforts led to significant research advances in molecular neuroscience that have been recognized in prestigious international journals. Novel TCM-derived drug candidates as potential treatments for brain-related ailments were also identified.

    Having received sustained funding for this AoE project, the multidisciplinary team is set to embark on the next phase of this highly commended project. The focus is to further elucidate the complex processes within the brain and determine the mechanisms underlying specific neuro-related diseases and disorders. The team will also focus on developing treatments for other brain disorders, such as depression, while driving the further development of the existing portfolio of TCM-derived novel compounds towards clinical use.


  • Chinese Medicine Research and Further Development
    • Total Funding Approved : HK$32.992M (HK$25M (2001-2007) + HK$7.992M Sustained Funding (2008-2011))
    • Indicative Project Time-Frame : 2001 - 2011
    • Co-ordinating Institution : The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Prof Ping-chung Leung)

    A consortium co-ordinated by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, with close collaboration from City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, has been formed to promote the modernization of Chinese medicine and to provide clinical research for drug development. The efficacy driven approach adopted by this consortium has received wide recognition and enabled it to establish a unique evidence-based scientific model for Chinese medicine research, with a view to identifying complementary or alternative treatments for clinical problems that are not adequately solved by modern medicine.

    Five selected herbal formulae for anti-hepatitis B infection, alleviating menopausal symptoms, promoting ulcer healing, managing childhood asthma and promoting cardiovascular health, have been fully explored for their clinical efficacies, underlying mechanisms of action and safe applications. The present project represents a continuation of the joint efforts of the consortium in further pursuit of the two formulae for promoting ulcer healing and cardiovascular health. It will not only set models for clinical evidence on the efficacy of selected herbal formulae, but will also establish models for clinical trials and drug authentication for Chinese medicine, thereby paving the way for drug development and commercialization.


  • Institute of Molecular Technology for Drug Discovery and Synthesis
    • Total Funding Approved : HK$64.8M (HK$48M (2001-2006) + HK$16.8M Sustained Funding (2007-2010))
    • Indicative Project Time-Frame : 2001 - 2010
    • Co-ordinating Institution : The University of Hong Kong (Prof Chi-Ming Che)

    Institute of Molecular Technology for Drug Discovery and Synthesis combines the expertise of leading academics with high international repute in chemistry and life sciences from The University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and the City University of Hong Kong, in collaboration with scientific and industrial leaders from around the world. The mission of this AoE is to implement world-class science and technology in the area of drug discovery and synthesis and to invent novel methodologies for the preparation and structural modification of new drug candidates as well as for proven drugs that carry no patent rights. The Institute will also develop technologies for potent drugs evaluation. Through this AoE, libraries of useful drug candidates and chiral technologies will be created. The institute will invent environmental-friendly technologies for drug synthesis, study the chemical biology of Inorganic Medicines and natural products, and devise new biosensors for disease monitoring and drug screening.