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Trans-Pacific agreement fosters close research partnership between Hong Kong PolyU and Waterloo

Monday, November 5, 2018

Hong Kong PolyU Vice President (Research Development), Alexander Wai holds witnessed agreement (centre) with Waterloo Dean of Science, Bob Lemieux (left) and PolyU Dean of Health and Social Sciences, David Shum Hong Kong PolyU Vice President (Research Development), Alexander Wai holds witnessed agreement (centre) with Waterloo Dean of Science, Bob Lemieux (left) and PolyU Dean of Health and Social Sciences, David Shum (right).

The Presidents of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and The University of Waterloo signed a Strategic University Partnership institutional agreement today with the objective to fostering closer partnership in education, research and entrepreneurship.

This historic agreement will see the two universities exploring opportunities for collaboration in research, furthering ties on faculty and student mobility and discussing connections in entrepreneurship, amongst other key areas.

“University of Waterloo is one of our valued partners. We both are an aspiring university, committed to shaping the future through conducting world-changing research and sending forth graduates who are ready to lead in a global economy. With a solid foundation, our new partnership will serve as an institutional framework for expanding the scope of our bilateral cooperation including diversifying areas of interdisciplinary academic, research and entrepreneurial collaboration; fostering greater mobility between our universities; and paving the way for the development of dual or joint programmes together,” said Professor Timothy W. Tong, President of PolyU.

“It is exciting to partner with exceptional institutions like PolyU and we cannot wait to expand on an already fruitful relationship through more international exchanges, joint programmes, research projects and more,” said Professor Feridun Hamdullahpur, President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Waterloo.

Representatives from Hong Kong PolyU and WaterlooRepresentatives from Hong Kong PolyU and Waterloo (left to right): Ms. Marian Gaultney, Prof. Wing-tak Wong,  Prof. George Woo, Prof. Bob Lemieux,  Prof. Alexander Wai,  Prof. David Shum,  Prof. Carly Lam, Prof. Chi-ho To, Dr. Terence Lau and Mr. Michael Wong.

Following the signing of the PolyU-University of Waterloo Strategic University Partnership Memorandum of Understanding, an Implementation Agreement has also been signed to work towards the establishment of a global Centre for Ocular Research and Development (CORD) in Hong Kong and preparatory work is now underway. The Centre will operate under the umbrella of the Waterloo Biomedical Research and Innovation Node (WBRIN) in Hong Kong.

CORD will address vital population health and aging imperatives in Hong Kong by partnering with local and internationally recognised leaders in ocular and vision science, and translating the research to commercial applications. According to the World Health Organization, vision problems cost the global economy US$200 billion annually to lost productivity. The Centre for Myopic Research at PolyU found that 70 percent of people born between 1950 and 1980 in Hong Kong are myopic.

CORD will focus on three key research areas, namely aging eye, sight saving technologies and the eye as a window to the brain. The researchers will explore new approaches in the detection and treatment of eye diseases, study the use of tear fluid as biomarkers to predict and diagnose diseases, and innovate technologies related to myopia prevention and reversal, visual neuro-rehabilitation and nanotechnology-based drug delivery. CORD will also conduct research into possible early diagnosis and disease monitoring in particular for diabetes and Alzheimer's disease through peripheral retinal imaging or optic nerve examination.

One of the key members in the CORD research team is Professor Donna Strickland from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo, Laureate of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics. Professor Strickland will lead a flagship project to treat age-related macular degeneration. She will expand on her award-winning work on chirped pulse amplification (CPA) to develop a laser-based two-photon excitation technique for photodynamic drug therapy to remove abnormal blood vessels in the retina with a high degree of accuracy.

Translating research into commercialisation will also be a key focus of CORD. The Centre aims to bring the University of Waterloo’s entrepreneurial culture to Hong Kong, developing spinoffs and multinationals to commercialize research, and creating a sustainable long-term business model.

CORD intends to submit a proposal to the HKSAR Government under the recently announced Health@InnoHK research cluster initiative, with a plan to establish its research node in the Hong Kong Science Park.

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