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Group Project Grants under the School of Science
12 December 2012

Two group projects from the School of Science successfully secured funding from the Research Grants Council.

A collaborative project led by Prof. Chi-Ting Chan (Physics) received a funding of HK$7.2 million from the Collaborative Research Fund to undertake the study of “Controlling scattering and absorption cross sections using simple artificial structures”. A wave is scattered if it encounters an object and the likelihood of it being scattered or absorbed is described by its scattering cross section (SCS) and the absorption cross section (ACS). Controlling these cross sections can result in many useful applications. For example, stealth technology works by coating an object to reduce its SCS. If a coating can enhance the ACS for light, it will facilitate light harvesting. If a coating can enhance the ACS for sound, it will facilitate sound absorption. The research team will design and build various structures and coating layers that can change the SCS or ACS of other objects, with emphasis on employing simple structures and materials that are easy to process. They will try to realize unusual effects by controlling the SCS or ACS. For example, the team will see if they can use light beams to attract or rotate an object by manipulating its SCS.

A multi-disciplinary team of more than 20 faculty members from the School of Science has successfully secured a total of HK$60.8 million in funding from the Theme-based Research Scheme for a pioneering initiative entitled ‘Stem Cell Strategy for Nervous System Disorders’. Led by Prof. Nancy Ip (Life Science) as the project coordinator, the team will study molecular mechanisms and signaling pathways that control the generation and differentiation of neural stem cells towards developing new therapies to combat the devastating effects of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases. Before any clinically effective therapy can be developed however, it is crucial to understand the intricate interplay among signaling molecules, and intrinsic and extrinsic factors in the generation and differentiation of neural stem cells. The team will thus explore the dynamic and rapidly growing field of regenerative medicine. Taking the complementary approaches of basic research and translation research, the team aims to lay the essential groundwork for developing neural stem cell-based treatments for brain diseases and disorders.

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