Issue 13, August 2007

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Research Impact and Funding Outlook
Beyond 2007
Examining the Interdependent Behaviour of MNCs in Foreign Direct Investment
New Cancer Drug Breakthrough for
Hong Kong
Cooperative Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma Research Centre Established In Hong Kong
The Case for Better Corporate Governance
Gene Mapping fights "Cantonese" Cancer
The Effects of Culture on Decision Making and Judgement
A "Rising Star" in
Hong Kong
Research projects funded in Central Allocation 2006/2007 exercise

Kendrick Shih, currently a fourth year medical student at the University of Hong Kong's Medical Faculty, has been named as one of six "Rising Stars" from around the world by the International Liver Transplantation Society, for his research work on liver cancer. Kendrick took the bold and difficult decision, after completing his third year in medical school, to spend a year doing research under the supervision of Prof Lo Chung Mau and co-supervisor Dr Nancy Kwan Man.

The Rising Star Award seeks to drive and reward developments related to illnesses in patients who have received liver transplants. The Society receives several hundred research abstracts every year. Shortlisted projects are then invited to present their work at an Annual Congress held in a different global city every year. Six winner-teams are subsequently chosen based on the quality of the project.

According to Prof Lo, Kendrick's winning of the award was nothing short of amazing. He points out that this is the first time that the award has ever been won by an undergraduate and says, "Kendrick, at 21, was the youngest presenter at the Congress. He not only competed against established doctors and scientists with many years of experience in the field, the paper presented was also chosen as the best paper at the meeting. The organisers automatically assumed that Kendrick was a doctor, and included the letters MD after his name."

Kendrick however is a lot more modest. While he is very proud to have won the award together with Dr Man – Dr Man was the mentor and Kendrick the mentee, he says, "I believe that other students would have achieved the same results if they were given the opportunities that I received from Prof Lo and Dr Man. I was lucky – by giving me the opportunity to take on the research and make the presentation at the Congress, which was held in Brazil this year, Prof Lo

(From Left to right) Prof. Lo Chung Mau,
Kendrick Shih and Dr. Nancy Kwan Man

literally placed his reputation on the line for me."

"I also think the project did well because the subject is so relevant clinically. The research is an extension of work done by Prof Lo and Dr Man, who as mentor and mentee, won a Rising Star Award in Milan last year. It looks into why cancer sometimes reoccurs in patients who have received liver transplants and why liver grafts from live donors appear to be more susceptible to tumor recurrence. Working on the premise that this is due to the smaller graft size of transplants from live donors, our research found that that there was a high presence of IP10, a chemokine normally involved in inflammatory reactions, when tumours developed recurrence or metastases in transplant patients."

Dr Man, who has won the Rising Star Award both as the mentee in 2006 and mentor this year, highlights the fact that Kendrick's research could be crucial to the development of therapies for recurring cancer in liver transplant patients. She however makes an additional point – she feels that Kendrick's success highlights just how effective research among undergraduates can be. She says that though Hong Kong has seen a surge in research in recent years, this has really taken place in the graduate world. She would therefore like to see the establishment of greater research opportunities for undergraduates, an area that at the moment is virtually undeveloped in Hong Kong.