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January 13, 2003

New Genome Research Centre in Hong Kong to Collaborate with Leading Canadian Genomics Centre

The newly established University of Hong Kong Genome Research Centre will be collaborating with one of the world's leading centres for genomics research. A memorandum of understanding on collaborative initiatives in genomics research and development was signed today by representatives of The University of Hong Kong (HKU) and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) of Toronto, Canada.

"It is an excellent opportunity for The University of Hong Kong's new Genome Research Centre to enter into a collaboration with an established genome centre with such an excellent track record. I am proud that I have been able to act as a bridge between the scientific communities of Canada and China," said Professor Lap-Chee Tsui, Vice-Chancellor of HKU.

The Genome Research Centre, located at HKU, was established in 2002 to lead the development of genome research in Hong Kong, South China and the region. While the centre is based at HKU, its services will be available for use by all universities in Hong Kong. The Genome Research Centre has a mandate to provide the expertise and infrastructure for studies in genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics. The Centre will also promote and facilitate the translation of the knowledge of genes, the proteins they encode, and their functions into applications for the understanding of disease mechanisms and for the development of diagnostic and therapeutic measures. It is also mandated to improve the human resources in biotechnology by providing training to graduates, postdoctoral fellows, clinician-scientists and biotechnologists, and to enhance public awareness in genome research for the benefit of the society.

"I expect this will be a fruitful year as our genome centres develop their collaborative relationship," said Professor Stephen Scherer, Director of The Centre for Applied Genomics, a Senior Scientist, and Associate Chief of Research at The Hospital for Sick Children. "Through joint research projects, workshops and symposia, and through the exchange of trainees and technology, we will advance genomics research for the benefit of people in Canada, China and around the world."

The Centre for Applied Genomics (TCAG) located at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, is a national infrastructure established to facilitate innovative research in genetics and genomics, including the isolation and characterization of disease genes of significant medical and therapeutic interest. The Hospital for Sick Children has a long history of excellence in genetics research, including the identification of over 20 disease-causing genes such as those for cystic fibrosis, Fanconi anemia and Lafora disease, a severe form of epilepsy.

TCAG's core facilities provide the resources, technologies and expertise essential for disease gene research and other basic and applied genetic and genomic investigations. TCAG also supports several large-scale genomic research projects involving technology development, training and international exchange. Some of the core facilities were established in 1990.

TCAG is supported by Genome Canada through the Ontario Genomics Insitute, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canadian Genetic Diseases Network of Centres of Excellence, and The Hospital for Sick Children Foundation.

"As the lead funding partner of two large-scale genomics projects and one platform led by TCAG, we commend both parties for the signature of this important MOU," stated Martin Godbout, President and CEO of Genome Canada. "At Genome Canada, we believe in the importance of developing international collaboration and we congratulate TCAG and the University of Hong Kong for this scientific cooperation agreement as it will help build on both organizations' existing strengths, further advancing the frontiers of knowledge."

Dr. Roderick McInnes, Scientific Director, Institute of Genetics, Canadian Institutes of Health Research added: "The Canadian Institutes of Health Research has supported The Centre for Applied Genomics for many years. This major infrastructure has been instrumental in facilitating numerous basic and clinical genetics and genomic research discoveries across Canada. I am certain that the new collaboration with the University of Hong Kong will lead to important new advances in biomedical research in Canada and China."

The University of Hong Kong (HKU) is a pre-eminent international research university in Asia with a mandate to sustain and enhance its excellence as an institution of higher learning through outstanding teaching and world-class research. For more information, please visit www.hku.hk.

The Hospital for Sick Children, affiliated with the University of Toronto, is Canada's most research-intensive hospital and the largest centre dedicated to improving children's health in the country. Its mission is to provide the best in family-centred, compassionate care, to lead in scientific and clinical advancement, and to prepare the next generation of leaders in child health. For more information, please visit www.sickkids.ca.

For more information, please contact:
Ms Polo Leung, External Relations Office
The University of Hong Kong
Tel: 2859 2600

or

For more information, please contact:

Public Affairs
The Hospital for Sick Children
555 University Avenue
Suite 1742, Public Affairs, First floor Atrium
Toronto, ON
M5G 1X8
Canada
Phone: 416-813-5058
Fax: 416-813-5328