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Keystone Symposia Conference on “Regenerative Biology and Applications: Cell Differentiation, Tissue Organization and Biomedical Engineering”
The University of Hong Kong
(16 October 2017)

Welcoming Address by the Secretary for Food and Health
Professor Sophia CHAN Siu-chee, JP

Professor Mathieson (President and Vice-Chancellor of HKU), Professor Tam (Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of HKU), Professor Lendahl (Karolinska Institutet, Sweden) and Professor Miller (Professor Freda D. Miller, Senior Scientist of The Hospital For Sick Children Research Institute, Canada), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning and a warm welcome to everyone. This year marks the 130th anniversary of The University of Hong Kong Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine.  I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt congratulations to the Faculty.  It also gives me great pleasure to join you today at the Keystone Symposia Conference on "Regenerative Biology and Applications: Cell Differentiation, Tissue Organization and Biomedical Engineering”, which provides an excellent opportunity to bring together prominent experts from all over the world to share their achievements and insights in regenerative biology.  

2.             Stem cell and regenerative biology are at the frontier of scientific research. With breakthroughs in regenerative medicine, what we deemed impossible has already become possible.   Over the years, Hong Kong has made remarkable progress in unleashing the potential of development in this field.  As one of the contributors in promoting biomedical science, the Hong Kong Government set up a Health and Medical Research Fund under the Food and Health Bureau in 2011 to support stem-cell and other research areas in medicine.  So far, a total of 23 projects have been funded to address a wide range of health problems including cancers, stroke, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, nephropathy, etc.   The project findings not only enrich our scientific knowledge, but also shed light on novel therapies against these diseases.  

3.             The Chief Executive has announced in the 2017 Policy Address that the Hong Kong Government will set up a Steering Committee to lead the study on strategies for developing genomic medicine in Hong Kong.  The Steering Committee will look into key areas which include enhancing clinical, laboratory and public health genetic and genomic services, strengthening academic research and professional training, as well as examining ethics and regulatory issues.  We believe that the establishment of the Steering Committee would add fresh impetus to the development of genomic medicine in Hong Kong.

4.             Clinical trial is an important process in turning innovation into safe and effective clinical service.  In collaboration with our internationally reputed medical schools of the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, we established in 2014 two state-of-the-art Phase 1 Clinical Trial Centres at Queen Mary Hospital and Prince of Wales Hospital for conducting early phase clinical trials.  With the Hong Kong Government’s facilitation, these two Centres have been accredited by the China Food and Drug Administration since 2016.  The results of the trials conducted in the centres can also be used in the Chinese Mainland.   

5.             Apart from supporting research and development, we recognize that a robust regulatory system is equally important, as it helps to guarantee treatment safety and efficiency, which in turn supports the growth of the biomedical industry by earning reputation and confidence from the public.  Looking forward, we will work closely with stakeholders including the medical industry to iron out a modernised regulatory system.

6.             Ladies and gentlemen, regenerative biology is an exciting science that holds huge potential to address a variety of incurable diseases and hence improving people’s life.   I am grateful to the organizers for bringing this conference to Hong Kong. May I wish this conference every success. 

7.             Thank you.