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The Areas of Excellence (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. Of the 24 AoE projects awarded to date, HKU has coordinated 10 and has participated in a further 10 coordinated by other local institutions.

Funded Projects Coordinated by HKU


Center for Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma Research

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 (mlilung@hku.hk)

Institute of Molecular Functional Materials

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

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)

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 D. Yang, Department of Chemistry (yangdan@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)


The Hong Kong Institute of Economics and Business Strategy

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)

The Institute of Molecular Technology for Drug Discovery and Synthesis

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)

Centre for Marine Environmental Research and Innovative Technology

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 (rudolfwu@hku.hk)

Developmental Genomics and Skeletal Research

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)

Control of Pandemic and Inter-pandemic Influenza

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)

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

Please click here for the full list.