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HKU has been awarded as coordinating institution for 12 of the 32 projects funded to date through the Areas of Excellence (AoE) scheme, and in a further 14 as a participant in projects coordinated by other local universities.

The AoE Scheme was launched by the University Grants Committee in 1997 to provide a platform to nurture areas of international excellence through high-quality research and inter-institutional collaboration. It was later transferred to the Research Grants Council in February 2012. 

12 Projects Awarded to HKU as Coordinator

HKU's Participation in Funded Projects Coordinated by Other Local Universities


Details of Funded Projects Coordinated by HKU

Quantitative History of China: Historical Roots of Recent Success and Future Development

China’s recent economic success and development trajectory are among the most discussed stories of our time. To understand what drove these achievements, scholars of this project will look at numerous historical and archaeological archives recently digitised in China and beyond for quantitative analyses of historical ‘big data’. This AoE – as part of a planned new Centre for Quantitative History at HKU – aims to significantly advance knowledge on the Mainland’s and Hong Kong’s historical development, enhance teaching and learning, aid policymaking and improve business practices.

Project Coordinator: Professor Z. Chen, Faculty of Business and Economics (zchen99@hku.hk)

2D Materials Research: Fundamentals Towards Emerging Technologies 
Two-dimensional (2D) materials feature a wide range of material properties that could be exploited to encode and process information more efficiently for a new era of innovation in information technology. This AoE aims to explore the great potential of 2D materials for revolutionizing electronics, optoelectronics and photonics, through a concerted effort addressing the fundamental issues from physics and materials synthesis to device engineering.

Project Coordinator: Professor W. Yao, Department of Physics (wangyao@hku.hk)

Institute of Metabolic Medicine

To reduce the tremendous economic and health care burdens imposed by diabetes and its complications, this AoE will integrate the existing research platforms and expertise in Hong Kong to form a transdisciplinary consortium with expertise in metabolic and vascular medicine, multi-omics, bioinformatics and artificial intelligence, chemistry and medical engineering, to combat the epidemic of these chronic diseases.

Project Coordinator: Professor A. Xu, Department of Medicine (amxu@hkucc.hku.hk)

Chemical Biology Approach to Molecular Medicine

In this AoE, the researchers plan to build up chemical biology research platforms to understand fundamental biological processes (such as post-translational modification and oxidative stress) at the molecular level, and to develop novel therapeutic approaches to human diseases.

Project Coordinator: Professor X.D. Li, Department of Chemistry (xiangli@hku.hk)

Center for Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma Research (completed)

Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a cancer of particular relevance to Hong Kong because of its high incidence among Southern Chinese and its rarity elsewhere in the world. This AoE team seeks to better understand the molecular and genetic mechanisms of this cancer to enable early diagnosis and new improved treatment options; and aims to study its epidemiology in order to identify preventable risk factors.

Project Coordinator: Professor M.L. Lung, Department of Clinical Oncology

Institute of Molecular Functional Materials (completed)

The AoE aims to bring together inter-institutional efforts from the area of synthetic, polymer, material and physical chemistry, and interdisciplinary expertise through national/international collaboration in physics and device engineering towards developing an international eminent research centre in the area of molecular functional materials towards addressing energy-related issues.

Project Coordinator: Professor V.W.W. Yam, Department of Chemistry (wwyam@hku.hk)

Theory, Modeling, and Simulation of Emerging Electronics (completed)

This AoE aims to develop next generation multi-scale electronic design automation (EDA) tools that combine the atomistic simulation of individual devices, the coarse-grained modeling of integrated circuitries and simulation of electric signals propagation and interference.

Project Coordinator: Professor G. Chen, Department of Chemistry (ghchen@hku.hk)

Control of Pandemic and Inter-pandemic Influenza (completed)

The overarching goal is to enhance public and animal health by developing a multi-disciplinary influenza research programme of international excellence through the integration of basic, clinical, and epidemiological research spanning the animal-human interface.

Project Coordinator: Professor J.S.M. Peiris, School of Public Health (malik@hkucc.hku.hk)

Centre for Marine Environmental Research and Innovative Technology (completed)

This AoE conducts research to develop innovative technologies for early detection, assessment, prediction and control of impacts arising from hypoxia (low oxygen), endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and emerging chemicals of concern (ECCs) in the marine environment.

Project Coordinator: Professor S.S. Wu, School of Biological Sciences

Developmental Genomics and Skeletal Research (completed)

Skeletal disorders are one of the world's most serious health problems, causing long-term pain and physical disability for hundreds of millions of people and impacting on the quality of life as we age. Therefore, understanding skeletal disorders is of enormous health, social, and economic importance.

Project Coordinator: Professor K.S.E. Cheah, School of Biomedical Sciences (hrmbdkc@hku.hk)

The Institute of Molecular Technology for Drug Discovery and Synthesis (completed)

This AoE combines the expertise of leading academics with high international repute in chemistry and life sciences. The mission is to implement world-class science and technology in the area of drug discovery and synthesis.

Project Coordinator: Professor C.M. Che, Department of Chemistry (cmche@hku.hk)

The Hong Kong Institute of Economics and Business Strategy (completed)

The Institute has gained a reputation as the premier research centre for economic policy and business strategy in Hong Kong, especially among local policy-makers. The AoE project completed in 2006; however, the work of the Institute has been continuing, pursuing its mission and objectives.

Project Coordinator: Professor R.Y.C. Wong, School of Economics and Finance (rycwong@hku.hk)