Three Scientists Receive 2018 Croucher Fellowships

A trio of scientists from the Hong Kong University and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology have been selected as Croucher Foundation Research Fellows for 2018-2019.

AsianScientist (Dec. 13, 2017) – Three distinguished scholars from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) have been honored with the Croucher Foundation’s Senior Research Fellowships 2018-2019 for their research achievements. They received their awards from Professor Tsui Lap-Chee, President of the Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong.

The Croucher Senior Research Fellowships scheme was first introduced in 1997. It is awarded to academics who have excelled in scientific research work as judged by leading international scientists invited to provide confidential reviews of candidates nominated in a competitive exercise. Funds are awarded to the universities of the fellowship recipients, enabling the university to recruit replacement teachers to take over the award winner’s duties for the period of the fellowship. This enables the awardees to devote more time and effort to research work.

The value of each award includes a HK$2 million (approximately US$250,000) research grant and the cost of a replacement teacher for a twelve-month period, which currently stands at a maximum of HK$956,040 (approximately US$120,000) for the Senior Research Fellowships.

Associate Professor Giulio Chiribella, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering at the Hong Kong University (HKU) received the award for his work on quantum information science and of the foundations of quantum mechanics. His lab investigates how the counterintuitive laws of the quantum world can be turned into working principles for future information technologies.

With the Croucher Senior Research Fellowship he will explore a new paradigm of communication, in which multiple transmission lines are combined in a quantum superposition. Taking advantage of this new paradigm, future communication networks may be able to guarantee the transmission of data even in scenarios where no communication is currently possible. This research program will explore a new interdisciplinary area at the interface between quantum mechanics, information theory and space-time physics.

The second awardee, also from HKU, was Associate Professor Li Xuechen of the Department of Chemistry at HKU’s Faculty of Science. He was recognized for his pioneering work in serine/threonine ligation technology and the chemical synthesis of antibiotics analogues for the development of new generation antibiotics. His team performed the first chemical synthesis of an antibiotic drug—daptomycin in 2013, then completed the chemical synthesis of teixobactin in 2016, which enabled the search for the next generation daptomycin- and teixobactin-based antibiotics against ‘superbugs,’ including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus.

Last but not least, Professor Zhang Mingjie, Kerry Holdings Professor of Science and Chair Professor, Division of Life Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, was conferred the award for his 20 years of contribution to the understanding of the structure and function of proteins that are critical for brain cell development and communication. His research findings have revealed insights into fundamental biological areas, including neuronal development and signaling.

Zhang’s findings provide important theoretical basis for the pathological mechanism of various nervous system diseases, such as stroke, neurological disorders, hereditary deafness and blindness. He will dedicate the reward to the study of the formation of synapses—the basic unit of neuronal circuits in the brain, which could pave the way for future drug development in the treatment of mental illnesses.


Source: University of Hong Kong.
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