In 2005, the University celebrated the inauguration of the first 8 Endowed Professorships,
a milestone in the University's history.
To date, a total of 116 Endowed Professorships have been established.
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Mr Andrew Lee King-Fun , Mrs Frances Cheng Lee

S Y and H Y Cheng Professorship in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine

S Y and H Y Cheng Professorship in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine"Dr Cheng Siu-Yue and Dr Cheng Hung-Yue, our late aunts, both medical alumnae of HKU in 1932, made immense contributions to the medical field in Hong Kong. It is our hope that this donation will enable HKU, our alma mater, to continue to make breakthroughs in Stem Cell Biology Research. "

Mr Andrew Lee King-Fun (BArch 1956) 
Mrs Frances Cheng Lee

Danny Chan

Danny Chan

Appointed in 2016

A flat worm that was studied by Charles Darwin on his landmark expedition around the world on HMS Beagle is now being investigated as a possible key to stem cell and tissue regeneration. Planarians have the ability to regenerate their bodies and scientists believe they can replicate this biological ability to “rejuvenate” some human cells.

Professor Danny Chan leads a team of researchers at the School of Biomedical Sciences of the LKS Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong (HKU), investigating the regenerative process and how it could be applied to degenerative skeletal diseases. His research interest is in skeletal biology, focusing on the development, growth and degenerative processes of the skeleton in health and disease. The goal is to understand disease mechanism and the impact on developmental processes affecting the maintenance of cellular differentiation.

Professor Chan said the ultimate goal in regenerative medicine is to rebuild “missing parts”, and to integrate new tissue with the old. For his work in this field he is studying “one of the most powerful regenerative organism in nature”, the planarian flat worm which can regenerate any missing parts of its body as each one has multiple stem cells. Professor Chan is studying planarians to understand the role of the stem cell environment in the regenerative process.

Through research into an abnormal growth plate causing dwarfism, Professor Chan and his research team found that as a consequence of the activation of a cellular stress signal in hypertrophic chondrocytes of the growth plate, a “reprogramming” event is induced and the cells become “rejuvenated”. His team is trying to define small molecules that could activate this rejuvenation event for the repair of cartilage as a therapy for conditions such as osteoarthritis and sport injuries. Professor Chan is also currently co-ordinating a Human Genetic Programme to identify genetic risk factors for intervertebral disc degeneration, which is a major cause of back pain. This study has provided solid evidence for a genetic contribution to disc degeneration and new insights into the etiology, changing the mindset of clinicians in patient care.

Professor Chan graduated from the University of Melbourne, with a Bachelor of Science (Hons), a Master of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy. In recognition of his contributions to medical research in the State of Victoria, Australia, he was presented with the “Premier's Award for Health & Medical Research”. In 2014, he received the Croucher Senior Research Fellowship for his contributions to biomedical research in Hong Kong.

Professor Chan joined HKU as an Honorary Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry in 1998. Four years later he became an Assistant Professor in the Department. In 2009, he became Assistant Dean (Research Affairs) in the LKS Faculty of Medicine. For the last three years he has been a Professor at the School of Biomedical Science, Assistant Dean (Research Postgraduate Studies) at the LKS Faculty of Medicine, and Deputy Director (Development and Education for Research Integrity) at HKU.

Professor Chan is a co-founder of the Little People of Hong Kong, an NGO that aims to promote interactions and support of patients and families with rare skeletal disorders. He uses his knowledge exchange activities with the NGO to translate his research and expertise for the benefit of the community.


Former Holder(s):

Ronald Li

Appointed in 2011

Numerous currently incurable human diseases arise from the loss or malfunction of highly specialized cell types that lack the capacity to regenerate (such as heart and brain cells) due to diseases (such as myocardial infarction and stroke), traumas (such as spinal cord injuries due to accidents) or aging (such as blindness due to age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma). Recent identifications of various stem cell populations and advances in biomedical sciences have enabled clinicians and researchers to pursue for the first time the revolutionary paradigm of Regenerative Medicine, whereby damaged cells or organs can now be repaired or replaced. Therefore, stem cell research has the unprecedented potential to provide solutions to incurable medical conditions.

The Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Consortium (SCRMC) of the Medical Faculty takes a multi-disciplinary approach to study stem cells by broadly integrating the various unique strengths at HKU, with novel medical concepts and cutting-edge equipment. It is currently composed of more than 150 Faculty members and trainees from 16 Departments. SCRMC is also organizing a Hong Kong-wide Stem Cell Initiative.

The Head of SCRMC is Professor Ronald Li, its Founding Director, who also holds Professorships in the Departments of Medicine and Physiology. Previously he was an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in Maryland, and a tenured Associate Professor at the University of California, with appointments in Biomedical Engineering, Biophysics, Genetics, Physiology and Cell Biology.

Professor Li’s main interest is to understand better the electrophysiological consequences of gene and cell-based heart therapies. His own research laboratory is helping to explain the behaviour and the biology of pluripotent human stem cells, cardiac differentiation, specification and maturation. The research team applies the basic knowledge gained to design and engineer custom-tailored cells and tissues as biological alternatives to conventional treatments and therapies. The group was the first to construct genetically engineered human embryonic stem cell-derived heart cells, and its work on a bio-artificial pacemaker has received high accolades.

Other findings in the field have been recognised by the American Heart Association as the Best Basic Study of 2005, Ground-Breaking Study of 2006, and Late-breaking studies of 2003, 2004 and 2007. Professor Li’s laboratory has received funding from the National Institute of Health, California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, the Research Grant Council of Hong Kong, and others.

Professor Li has received numerous honours for his work, including the Young Investigator Award of the Heart Rhythm Society in 2003, Top Junior Faculty Research Award from the Department of Medicine at JHU in 2002 and 2004. Internationally he has also served on many high-profile bodies including the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation in the US, the American Heart Association, The Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust in the UK, and the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong.