205 Congregation

Gairdner Global Health Award ‘for significantly contributing to understanding the origins and options for control of newly emerging infectious disease outbreaks in Asia, notably zoonotic influenza and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).’ The last two were awarded the 2021 Future Science Prize in Life Sciences ‘for their discoveries of SARS-CoV-1 as the causative agent for the global SARS outbreak in 2003 and its zoonotic origin, with impact on combating COVID-19 and emerging infectious diseases.’ Dr Maria Zhu Huachen (Public Health) won the 16th National Young Woman Scientist Award (中國青年女科學家獎) for her work in emerging infectious diseases, especially steering the establishment of the Shantou University-HKU Joint Virology Laboratory with her mentor Guan Yi. Professor Chen Honglin (Microbiology) led his team to win a Gold Award with Congratulations of the Jury at the 2021 Inventions Geneva Evaluation Days for their work on an intranasal influenza virus-backboned COVID vaccine that will hopefully become a useful next-generation option as we transition from pandemic to endemic. Professor Jin Dong-yan (Biomedical Sciences), Dr Vincent Lui (Surgery) and Professor Leo Poon (Public Health) won three out of the four health-related Themebased Research Scheme projects awarded by the Research Grants Council this year. Of course our colleagues continue to make important contributions to the ongoing pandemic control effort, locally, nationally and globally. One yardstick, amongst many others, would be the number of citations already accrued of our COVID-19 related papers. HKUMed has produced 16 papers that have already attracted at least 1,000 citations each, with the top paper alone having been cited 14,000 times to date1. On the topic of citations, four days ago, Clarivate Analytics announced that a 1 According to Google Scholar. Data retrieved 7 November 2021. record 17 colleagues attained the coveted ‘Highly Cited Researcher’ or HCR status. HCR is determined by production of multiple highly cited papers that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year in Web of Science. HKUMed’s proportion made up more than half of the University’s total 31 researchers so honoured. This has lifted HKU to being included amongst the top 50 schools worldwide in terms of number of researchers judged as HCR. You will find a full list of notable achievements during the past academic year at the end of the printed Address. Notwithstanding these impressive statistics and reputational accolades, I keep revisiting a few questions that go to the very heart of our raison d’être. Would assembling an ever larger contingent of people with high h-indices who have already garnered international recognition be a sufficient, or even desirable, aim for a medical school? Or perhaps we could more single-mindedly coach and cajole our own towards the same research metrics-driven goals? If still not entirely satisfactory, what else is missing from the definition of rich human capital? Let me relate a couple of stories I witnessed in the past month alone. I was visiting a colleague who was recently hospitalised on his birthday. Given COVID restrictions, there was no family visitation allowed. Just as I was leaving, a former medical student who is now almost ready to exit her specialist training came into the room with a takeout dinner from the hospital cafeteria, given that hospital meals were hardly appetising. I commended her for her thoughtfulness, and quietly alerted her that it was the patient’s birthday. She beamed back and showed me a chocolate bar she had in her whitecoat pocket, signalling that was going to be the ‘birthday cake’ after dinner. That was what a caring doctor should look like. That was empathy. That was the art of medicine which our medical humanities programme aims to inculcate. And that was immeasurable by impact factor analysis. Another former colleague recently spent down much of her already dwindling political capital, against all odds internal and external, to push through a complete ban of all non-traditional tobacco products, including both electronic cigarettes and heat-not-burn devices. Why would a politician in today’s environment, risk her personal stakes over a piece of legislation, even if implemented with the desired effect, that would not allow her to win political plaudits? To underscore the science underpinning her new legislative fiat, another junior academic colleague effectively rendered his two children orphans for a month to rush through round after round of new analyses and simulations that culminated in an 80-page supplementary appendix. This herculean effort led to timely acceptance of the paper in a high profile journal that was disseminated in the lay media, which in turn directly and positively influenced the final session of the bill’s committee proceedings. The law finally passed third reading last month in the Legislative Council. That was an affirmation of 「上醫治 國」. That was lifesaving impact of hundreds of thousands of tobacco-related deaths averted in the decades to come. And that was immeasurable by research metrics. On recognising impact by unsung heroes, there were a few most worthy of honourable mention that is two decades overdue. They had absolutely enabled the headline success of our own professors who have been recognised by the Gairdner and Future Science awards for discovering the SARS coronavirus back in 2003. At the risk of being invidious and non-exhaustive, they include our longtime HKUMed colleagues Dr Chan Kwok-hung (Microbiology), Professors John Nicholls (Pathology) and Leo Poon (Public Health), Drs Wilina Lim at the Department of Health and Dominic Tsang (Medic 1984) at the Hospital Authority who anchored the first response in the public sector, and individual clinicians looking after the very earliest patients at Kwong Wah Hospital such as Dr Wilson Yee who was the attending physician, Dr Ko Kai-ming (Medic 6