Three HKUMed scholars acquire international accolades

Professor Tak Mak awarded in Tumor Immunology
Professor Kathryn Cheah, the first EMBO Associate Member from Hong Kong
Professor Chak-sing Lau appointed as Member of the Academia Europaea

HONG KONG SAR - Media OutReach - 6 July 2023 - The LKS Faculty of Medicine, the University of Hong Kong (HKUMed) is pleased to announce three international accolades acquired by our Faculty members: Professor Tak Mak Tak-wah, Department of Pathology, School of Clinical Medicine, will be presented the 2023 William B. Coley Award from the Cancer Research Institute (CRI); Professor Kathryn Cheah Song-eng, School of Biomedical Sciences, was elected as Associate Member of European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO); and Professor Chak-sing Lau, Dean of Medicine, has recently been appointed a Member of the Academia Europaea. These accolades from various international institutions not only applaud the achievements of the three professors, they also demonstrate the recognition by global peers of the high research standards of HKUMed.

Professor Tak Mak, Professor Kathryn Cheah and Professor Chak-sing Lau
Professor Tak Mak, Professor Kathryn Cheah and Professor Chak-sing Lau

Professor Tak Mak bestowed with 2023 William B. Coley Award
Professor Tak Mak, Honorary Professor, Department of Pathology, School of Clinical Medicine, HKUMed, will be conferred the 2023 William B. Coley Award, the highest scientific honour by CRI in Basic and Tumor Immunology. The Award is in recognition of his profound discoveries throughout his career, most notably the revolutionised contribution in establishing the foundations of T-cell immunology.

"The CRI has provided us with unwavering support for our research. I am deeply honoured and proud to share the prestige of the William B. Coley Award with all of my laboratory team members and use this distinction to further boost our efforts to improve cancer immunotherapy," said Professor Tak Mak.

Dr O'Donnell-Tormey, CRI's Chief Executive Officer and Director of Scientific Affairs, praised the contribution of Professor Mak in CRI's announcement, "Our deep belief is that by deciphering the basic principles of the immune system, we can bring its great power to bear against cancer. Dr Mak's work is an example of this philosophy in action. By decoding basic T-cell biology, he opened up an entire new world of possibilities as far as treating cancer and numerous other diseases. We are now starting to see the fruits of those contributions in a big way."

Announcement link:

The William B. Coley Award was established in 1975 in honour of Dr William B. Coley, a pioneer of cancer immunotherapy. The award is given to the world's leading scientists for seminal discoveries in the field of basic immunology and cancer immunology, presented annually by the Cancer Research Institute.

Professor Mak is ranked 9th internationally and 1st in Canada in Molecular Biology in the recently announced 2023 Top Scientists Rankings. He was conferred Honorary Degree by the Johns Hopkins University on 25 May this year.

Professor Mak is currently Director of the Centre for Oncology and Immunology, Honorary Professor, Department of Pathology, School of Clinical Medicine, HKUMed, as well as a senior scientist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics and Immunology at the University of Toronto. Prior to the Coley Award, Professor Mak, whose research has been cited more than 170,000 times, has received numerous awards and honours, and election into the Royal Society of London and the US National Academy of Sciences. His contributions have propelled the fields of genetic science and cancer treatment for humanity forward in tremendous fashion.

Professor Kathryn Cheah elected as EMBO Associate Member
Professor Kathryn Cheah Song-eng, Jimmy and Emily Tang Professor of Molecular Genetics and Chair Professor of Biochemistry, School of Biomedical Sciences, HKUMed, has been elected as Associate Member of EMBO, in recognition of her outstanding academic achievements in the field of biomedical sciences. The EMBO Membership consists of more than 2,000 leading researchers in Europe and around the world, including 91 Nobel laureates, and Professor Cheah is the first in Hong Kong to receive this merit.

Professor Kathryn Cheah said, "It is a great honour to me being elected as an Associate Member of the EMBO. This is a recognition of our contribution to understanding the molecular genetics of skeletal development and hearing and their disorders. This honour also belongs to my team of research trainees and their dedicated work over many years."

EMBO is an international institution comprised of top life scientists committed to advancing molecular biology research, promoting international exchange, and establishing a conducive research environment to continuously elevate scientific research standards. Candidates for EMBO Membership are exclusively nominated and elected by existing EMBO Members based on the nominated scientists' research excellence and outstanding achievements.

As an internationally renowned developmental geneticist, Professor Kathryn Cheah joined HKU in 1983, with an emphasis on understanding gene regulation and function in the skeletal and inner ear development. She was awarded a Croucher Foundation Senior Fellowship in 2000 and was appointed Fellow of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) in 2013, and a Member of the Hong Kong Academy of Sciences in 2021, committed to promoting the development of science and technology research in Hong Kong. She and her team pioneered the introduction of transgenic and knockout mouse technology to Greater China and Hong Kong, and actively promotes public understanding of science in the region, with the aim of raising the international reputation of the scientific community in Hong Kong. Professor Cheah has also served on the editorial boards of international journals such as Matrix Biology, Annual Reviews of Genomics and Human Genetics, and BioEssays, as the Asian editor-in-chief of Development, Growth & Differentiation. She is currently Senior Editor of eLife.

View the biography of Professor Kathryn Cheah at:

Professor Chak-sing Lau appointed as a Member of the Academia Europaea
Dean of Medicine, Daniel C K Yu Professorship in Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Chair of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Professor Chak-sing Lau has been elected as Member of Academia Europaea, as a tribute to his sustained academic excellence in the field of rheumatology. Professor Lau will attend the Annual Meeting of the Academia in October 2023, at which he will be officially acknowledged and welcomed.

"It is my honour to be elected as a Member of the Academia Europaea. I would like to express my gratitude to my research team and fellow partners. Without all of your joint efforts, our research and achievements could never be recognised by the Academy," remarked Professor Chak-sing Lau.

Founded in 1988, the Academia Europaea is a non-governmental association comprised of international top scientists from various research fields. To become one of the Members, scholars must demonstrate sustained academic achievement and outstanding status in their field. Scholars have been selected to membership after being nominated by existing Members, following a rigorous peer review process and approval from the Board of Trustees.

Professor Chak-sing Lau is known as a pioneer for establishing and advancing rheumatology in Hong Kong, Asia and beyond. He set up the Hong Kong Arthritis & Rheumatism Foundation in 2001, the first and only local charity organisation that raises funds to support the psychosocial and therapeutic needs of patients with rheumatic diseases. Professor Lau took on the helms of the Asia Pacific League of Rheumatology Associations (APLAR) between 2006 and 2008.

Beyond the Asia-Pacific region, he was an Advisory Member of the European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology (EULAR) Congress Committee from 2019 to 2023, and was named an Honorary Member of EULAR in 2022. Professor Lau co-founded the Asia Pacific Lupus Collaboration in 2011, a major multi-national, multi-centre research collaboration organization. Besides, he sits on the editorial board of multiple top-ranked rheumatology journals.

View the biography of Professor Chak-sing Lau at:

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06 Jul 2023



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