The Board of Directors of the Hong Kong Institute of Biotechnology (HKIB) announces the appointment of Prof. Cheng Hon-ki Christopher, professor in the School of Biomedical Sciences of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), to succeed Prof. Ho Kwok-keung Walter upon his retirement as Managing Director of HKIB, with effect from 1 January 2011. Professor Cheng is concurrently appointed by CUHK as Director of the Chinese University Institute of Biotechnology.
HKIB was founded by Professor Sir Charles Kao, former CUHK Vice-Chancellor, in 1988 with a generous donation of $170 million from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust to support the formation of a biotechnology industry in Hong Kong. Over the years, the institute has received grants from the government and other bodies to strengthen its infrastructure and research. Under the directorship of Professor Ho, the institute has been financially self-sustaining in the past six years and has actively collaborated with the private sector to promote biotechnology research and business development in Hong Kong. Currently, the institute has three major business units: Biologics and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Consultation Unit, Chinese Medicine Unit and Incubator Facility Unit. All these units are actively engaged in helping the territory to develop a biotechnology industry.
The Director-designate, Professor Cheng, has been the Associate Director of the institute since 2006. Having previously worked in Genentech Inc. in the San Francisco Bay Area, Professor Cheng has actively participated in the business development and translational activities of the institute in the past few years. A CUHK graduate, Professor Cheng obtained his B.Sc. degree (First Class Honours) in biochemistry in 1976. He subsequently pursued graduate studies at University College London as a Shell Scholar, receiving his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1980. Professor Cheng then moved to the University of California at San Francisco to work under the mentorship of the late renowned biochemist, Prof. Choh Hao Li. In 1981, he returned to Hong Kong to join his alma mater. Professor Cheng is currently a professor at the University’s School of Biomedical Sciences, and is the founding chief of the Reproduction, Development and Endocrinology Theme of the school.
Professor Cheng’s major research interests are molecular endocrinology and the development of therapeutic agents from natural and synthetic compounds. In collaboration with scientists from mainland China, Professor Cheng received the prestigious State Natural Science Award (Second Class) in 2009 for the project ‘Composition analysis of certain medicinally important plants’, which has contributed significantly to the development of botanical resource and natural product chemistry in China. He has served as visiting professor in a number of universities on the mainland, including Zhejiang University, Sun Yat-sen University and Southwest University.
HKIB is committed to providing the catalyst and essential infrastructure for the development of a biotechnology industry in Hong Kong through downstream R&D support and an incubator facility for local entrepreneurs to develop biotechnology products.