Young scientists take stage

Young scientists take stage

Forum is chance to share research, forge ties

Attendees of the Hong Kong Laureate Forum (HKLF) inspect posters presenting young scientists at the Hong Kong Science Park. At least 30 scientists enrolled for the presentation on Nov 14.  Wisawaporn Jukgoljun
Attendees of the Hong Kong Laureate Forum (HKLF) inspect posters presenting young scientists at the Hong Kong Science Park. At least 30 scientists enrolled for the presentation on Nov 14.  Wisawaporn Jukgoljun

The Hong Kong Laureate Forum (HKLF) is promoting a "Young Scientist" programme to support networking among academics.

The promotion, in the form of a poster presentation, was part of an eventful Nov 13–18 HKLF forum held at the Hong Kong Science Park.

It served as a space for scientists to not only mingle but also provided an opportunity for them to learn together, HKLF Council secretary-general, Do Pang Wai Yee said.

"In a way, you'll be with people even if they're not in the same lab. They understand what scientist are like," said Ms Do.

Rise of Young Scientists

According to Ms Do, the project is the brainchild of former Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, who came up with the idea after visiting the Heidelburg Laureate Forum and Lindau Nobel Laureate meetings.

The Young Scientist programme was created as a space for young scientists to meet renowned scientists who received the Shaw Prize, a Hong Kong-based scientific award.

The programme was initially planned for 2021.

However, just like other events, it had to be postponed due to the Covid pandemic, said Ms Do, who added that it is better for such an event to be held physically rather than online.

At least 30 posters presented at the HKLF forum were selected from about 200 entries. Since the topic was not specified, they could have submitted any research to the council for selection.

Once they were submitted, they could decide to enrol for the poster presentation, for which Ms Do said the forum council printed a poster for them to display at the exhibition.

The Excerpts

Regarding the poster presentation, at least 30 researchers joined the presentation on scientific matters at the Hong Kong Science Park.

Topics covered every branch of science, but most were on medical science.

One of the presenters was Dr Jane Wong from Queen Mary's Hospital in Hong Kong, whose study focused on screening tests for hereditary angioedema (HAE), a rare genetic disease.

HAE is caused by the absence of an important protein called C1 esterase inhibitor (C1-INH) in the blood.

This causes swelling throughout the body and leads to death by suffocation due to potential swelling in the respiratory area.

In 2017, it was found that HAE affected 50,000 to 150,000 people globally.

In Thailand, many hospitals had worked with a network called HAE Thailand on HAE treatment, including campaigning for the addition of medication for this disease to the National Health Security system.

Since the traditional test for HAE was expensive and might have delayed a patient's diagnosis, Dr Wong's study aimed at finding a way to offer a quicker, more effective, yet cheaper way to screen for the disease.

The study suggested family screening as the main method of study. Results show that this method is able to reduce additional cost by at least US$153 (5,400 baht) per family, and 67% of 179 relatives were able to be screened for HAE.

The next move for this project is global expansion. This screening project is now planned to be added to screening methods in the Asean region, including Thailand, said Dr Wong.

Other projects looked at the forum focused on current events, from the cryptocurrency trend to overcoming Covid-19.

Raphaela Iris Lau from the Chinese University of Hong Kong focused her research on using probiotics to cure long Covid symptoms, raising a question after the finding on a stool test for her patient with the disease.

Stephen Chen from the American University of Shahjah focused his study on using momentum trading to explain cryptocurrency trading.

The presentation was not only for knowledge-transferring purposes. According to Ms Do, it also led to network connections that can inspire new scientists.

For future plans, Ms Do said things will depend on the responses from the meeting.

"We hope scientists and young [scientists] will tell us, and then we will see how it goes from here," she said.

About the Forum

HKLF had hoped to staged this event in 2021 to provide knowledge and build connections between academics.

Unfortunately, as noted above, it had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

At least 200 young scientists from over 30 countries, including Thailand, attended the forum, as well as 20 scientists and academics who were awarded the Shaw Prize.

In his speech at the event's opening, John Lee Ka-Chiu, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, said the forum aimed to provide an international opportunity to use science and technology to solve global problems.

"Hong Kong will continue to be a world-class collaboration hub for inspirational minds," Mr Lee said.

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