Five Outstanding Research Projects from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) Received Total Funding of $168 Million as of 12e cycle of the Thematic Research Program (TRS), of which $149 million will be provided by the Research Grants Council and $19 million will be matched by the university.
The research projects awarded cover the four research themes designated under the TRS: promoting good health, developing a sustainable environment, strengthening Hong Kong’s strategic position as a regional and international business center and advancing research. emerging and important innovations for Hong Kong. Here are the details of the funded projects:
“ReRACE: cutting-edge ReRAM AI chips”
Project coordinator: Dr. Ngai Wong, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Faculty of Engineering.
Funding awarded: $32.258 million
AI chips, operating as accelerators or deep learning processors, are essential for the development and deployment of AI technology at scale. This project takes an innovative approach on implementing cutting-edge next-generation AI by leveraging emerging memristive devices for in-memory computing, which could potentially increase energy efficiency by 1,000 times. The significant improvement in energy efficiency could reduce the carbon footprint and facilitate the growth of AI and pervasive edge applications.
“SynchronHub: Cyber-physical internet for synchronization of cross-border logistics hubs in the Greater Bay Area (GBA)”
Project coordinator: Professor George Q. Huang, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
Funding awarded: $40.301 million
The Cyber-Physical Internet (CPI) entangles the flow of materials and information to form a logistics metaverse where sending and receiving goods is like sending and receiving instant messages on WhatsApp or WeChat. This project proposes to develop a suite of innovative technologies to digitize logistics objects into cyber physical objects, using a configuration similar to the configuration of a network printer. The successful construction and deployment of CPI networks globally will significantly reduce logistics costs, improve operational efficiency and service quality, and optimize the trade-off between economic performance indicators and environmental concerns.
“Delineating and translating mechanistic determinants to improve the clinical management of liver cancer”
Project Coordinator: Professor Irene Oi-Lin Ng, Department of Pathology, LKS Faculty of Medicine
Funding awarded: $43.011 million
Liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma, HCC) is a life-threatening disease and one of the leading causes of cancer death in Hong Kong. This project aims to improve diagnostic and treatment outcomes for patients with this deadly cancer by establishing the efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) therapy. By using various state-of-the-art technological platforms such as single-cell transcriptomics, the project could obtain better surgical resectability, provide insights into genetic, molecular and immune changes in HCC patients responding to ICI treatment, as well as find new targets. and biomarkers for ICI treatment and prognosis of HCC.
“Characterization of the tumor microenvironment in nasopharyngeal carcinoma”
Project Coordinator: Professor Xin-Yuan Guan, Department of Clinical Oncology, LKS Medical School
Funding awarded: $9.678 million
Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a deadly cancer commonly found in Hong Kong and other parts of southern China. The project will apply new scientific research technologies to advance the precise treatment of nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Among them, the research aims to find the key factors that suppress the immune effect and to study the possibility that it becomes a new therapeutic target. Additionally, the project will develop new drugs for nasopharyngeal cancer, use bioinformatics such as artificial intelligence deep learning models to build models that predict patient response to immunotherapy, and test the application. combination of immunotherapy versus chemotherapy and targeted therapy in nasopharyngeal cancer.
“Towards carbon neutrality: catalysing water and carbon dioxide to make them vectors of green resources”
Project coordinator: Professor Zheng Xiao Guo, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science
Funding awarded: $43.011 million
Achieving carbon neutrality is a global mission. This project contributes by providing carbon negative technologies that could help achieve carbon neutrality goals worldwide. The technologies developed could transform molecules abundant on earth, such as (sea) water and carbon dioxide, into clean fuels and chemicals, such as hydrogen and alcohol, using solar energy or renewable wind turbine during conversion. The project also establishes the scientific basis for future research, turning molecules in the air into fuels, fertilizers, fabrics and even food. The research takes a multidisciplinary approach that could make Hong Kong a “Green Resources Carriers Hub”.
The Thematic Research Program, launched by the Research Grants Council (RGC) in 2010, aims to channel academic research efforts from UGC-funded universities into important strategic areas that promote Hong Kong’s long-term development.
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