Pinnacle of Global Medical Collaboration
Signing of MOU and Inaugural Meeting
of the East-West Alliance

Hundreds of local and overseas top notch academics as well as medical professionals gathered at the Cheung Kung Hai Conference Centre at William MW Mong Block, The University of Hong Kong Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine on April 14, 2007 to witness a historic initiative - the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by nine member institutions and to attend the Inaugural Meeting of the East-West Alliance (EWA).

The EWA is a global medical network formed in 2006 comprising nine renowned research-led institutes supported by the Li Ka Shing Foundation. Its creation lends a new, powerful platform for inter-institute exchange. EWA Members are the University of California, Berkeley, University of Cambridge, St Michael's Hospital (affiliated to University of Toronto), The University of Hong Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Institut Pasteur, University of Manitoba, Shantou University and Stanford University.

By signing the MOU, Members pledged to:
(1) explore collaborative research opportunities so as to solve the most pressing global health problems in niche areas, including aging, cancer and infection,
(2) attract research grants through multidisciplinary collaborations, and
(3) advance health science and technology through research and knowledge translation.

EWA members also vowed to foster academic exchange to build on the unique strengths and leverage on the synergies of the Alliance members. The value of the exchange is self-evident. When Stanford University Professor Nancy Shulman was interviewed by local Hong Kong reporters with Dr Yam Wing-cheung of the Faculty on HIV drug resistance, she introduced Stanford's data bank in this regard which is accessible by anyone on web. This transparent system and open sharing is useful as the resistance is global and on an increasing trend. Because of the Alliance, Dr Yam was able to add the Hong Kong dimension by exploring the possibility of providing Hong Kong data to Stanford's, illustrating the possible collaboration and partnership of the EWA: it does not only enable Members to contribute to a global cause but also to wield the power and command resources of more than one single institute for the eventual benefit of mankind.

As Professor Michael Botchan of UC Berkeley rightly pointed out, "the success of medical research depends on perseverance, a little bit of luck and a huge amount of sponsorship." He took the opportunity to express gratitude to the generosity of the Li Ka Shing Foundation in funding his projects in the US, and many other projects over the world. "This East West collaboration would not be possible without the extraordinary foresight and vision of the donor, who captured the attention of the world's scientific and medical communities with the focus on the increasing health hazards facing the world-wide population," said Professor Botchan.

Sixteen experts from world famous institutes in North America, Europe and Asia attended the EWA Meeting in Hong Kong on April 14 and 15 to share ground-breaking studies and findings in some of the most widespread killer diseases which inevitably have to be faced by people around the world. Presentation topics included hepatitis, cervical cancer, SLE, HIV, Avian Flu, SARS, oesophageal cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer, ovarian cancer. In short, the strengths of individual clinical programmes were highlighted in an attempt to mine synergies for higher impact results, which is one of the missions of the Alliance.

At the Opening Ceremony of the Meeting, Professor Raymond Liang Hin-suen, Acting Dean of The University of Hong Kong Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, said "the Alliance of these nine institutions and the signing of the MOU mark a milestone in our pursuit of excellence."

"This conference is the first step in the long journey towards our ultimate goal of bridging any gap between the East and West to improve human health. It also marks the 120th anniversary of our Faculty. The University of Hong Kong and the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine are extremely privileged to be able to host this world-class event at this memorable moment," continued Professor Liang.

Vice Chancellor Professor Lap-Chee Tsui was present to welcome the overseas gurus on April 14. The public lectures following the Opening Ceremony on hepatitis in Asia and cervical cancer were also well attended by over 300 students and members of the public.