SBMS Newsletter Issue 08

• Humour as a pedagogical approach to improve student engagement, enhance learning and relieve stress • Upcoming Cryo-EM core facility for the advancement of our biomedical sciences research • School members awarded silver medals in the Special Edition 2022 Inventions Geneva Evaluation Days • Dr. Martin Cheung and his team discover new molecular mechanism in promoting melanoma angiogenesis and metastasis, paving the way for new therapeutic opportunities

This photo is taken by Mr. Duncan Hok Kan Cheng, Year 1 MBBS Student, HKUMed.

June 2022 | Issue 08

Welcome Message

I would like to begin by recognizing everyone’s continuous contributions and perseverance. Despite obstacles, we have seen encouraging progress and achievements in the School in the past few months. There are new papers got accepted, research seminars, knowledge exchange activities, teaching-related events, new PIs and staff on board, student and staff awards, grants…etc. Every effort of every member in the School counts. Apart from hard work, another key element of our success is cohesive community. I believe that in spite of social distancing and face masks, we have built connections and helped each other out because we all have a common goal in advancing science. This sense of community is precious. Summer days here can be rainy and stormy, but as always, let’s look for the silver lining and rainbow. Whatever your plans are in this summer, stay positive (mentally!), keep working towards your goal, and be kind.

Dr. Lydia Cheung Member, Knowledge Exchange and Global Committee School of Biomedical Sciences

Teaching and Learning Humour as a pedagogical approach to improve student engagement, enhance learning and relieve stress Feature Story

by Dr. Joanna Ho

Research shows that humour may facilitate the relief of stress and tension caused by one's fears, such as by the recent COVID-19 pandemic (Hussein and Aljamili, 2020). According to Jones (2014), the use of humour as a pedagogical tool is on the rise globally in almost every discipline. To validate the positive impacts of humour in teaching at HKU, we purposefully implemented humour pieces and systematically analyzed the impact of such humour incorporation in the field of biomedical sciences (Figure 1) . Such implementation by teachers and the analysis of students’ perceptions on the effectiveness of humor on their learning were carried out in six different courses spanning over the Common Core Curriculum and BBiomedSc programme. The interim data analysis confirmed positive impacts of the implementation. Our results demonstrated that the appropriate use of humour promoted student engagement, enhanced learning and relieved stress. Most student found these humour contents to be effective in helping them to focus in class, and even had motivated them to attend more of the lectures. In fact, students are themselves, active creators and users of humor, in their own studies. Figure 2 shows winners from a humor competition that we had conducted. Students actively submitted their own humor pieces which they had used to learn and remember structures and functions of amino acids. We are currently developing a standardized humour pedagogical system manifested within the framework of the cognitivism learning theory, so that we can consistently generate positive outcomes that are predictable and replicable. We termed the system “Planned Humour Incorporation System for Teaching and Learning Enhancement” (PHISTLE). We believe that humour is a popular personal tool used by individual teachers to enhance teaching and learning here in HKU. With the aim of making humour available as a common tool and promoting the use of it as a community of practice, we are constructing an online repository of humour for teaching. To show your generous support towards the construction of this humour niche, and your support in making it a recognized common practice in the teaching community on the whole, please donate a piece of your favorite humour into our common repository (see below for direct link (and QR code). You may also send your submission directly to . Together, let’s make more fun with puns!

Figure1. A wordplay type of humour incorporated in the BBiomedSc course BBMS3011 Molecular Neuroscience

Figure2. Winners of the acronym competition, October 2021

The project logo

References · Husseina, A.T. and Aljamili, L.N. (2020) . COVID-19 humor in Jordanian social media: A socio-semiotic approach. Heliyon, 6(12), e05696. · Jones, G. (2014) . Humor to the rescue: How to make introductory economics an appealing social science for non-majors. American Journal of Business Education, 7(2), 151-156. · The project is supported by a Teaching Development Grant (10212.101002120..22600.304.01).

Donate your favorite humour!

Feature Story Research & Innovation

How the upcoming Cryo-EM Core Facility will advance our research

Dr. Jeff Ti

Microtubules are dynamic polymers of α / β -tubulin heterodimers central to cellular processes, such as cell division, cell migration, and organelle transportation. Higher eukaryotes not only have microtubule architectures with diverse structures and functions but also encode substantially expanded α - and β -tubulin gene families (i.e., isotypes). Genetics and cell biology studies suggest that each tubulin gene has a unique cellular function. However, the molecular mechanism by which tubulin isotypes contribute to the regulation of microtubule networks in cells remains poorly understood. I aim to integrate state-of-the-art recombinant protein technology with cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structural analysis of microtubules to dissect the underlying molecular mechanisms for tubulin isotypes to regulate

microtubule networks. Specifically, I will examine how tubulin isotypes, together with other regulator proteins, control the fundamental biochemical and biophysical properties of microtubules. My previous work has revealed that human β -tubulin isotype compositions can modulate microtubule protofilament number and stability, likely through the isotype-dependent structural plasticity of tubulin subunits (Ti et al., 2018). Here at HKU, using cryo-EM to examine microtubules reconstituted with physiologically relevant tubulin isotype compositions, our findings will contribute to broad research fields, including cancer biology, developmental biology, and neurobiology, where the importance of tubulin isotypes has been demonstrated.

Dr. Jeff Ti’s webpage

Dr. Keda Zhou

state-of-the-art technology, is the most powerful approach to help us determine the structures of transient complexes in the epigenetic regulations. The upcoming new cryo-EM core facility will greatly promote structural studies in both my research group and the whole community. As one of the most advanced cryo-EM facilities in Hong Kong, it offers us the best accessibility and efficiency in screening and data collection. It thus enables us to apply or create new methods to structure determination, and provides teaching and learning opportunities to the students who are enthusiastic about structural biology.

DNA is compacted into chromatin to store the genetic information. As the basic unit of chromatin, the nucleosome is formed by tightly wrapping ~147 bp DNA around a histone octamer, which governs the accessibility of DNA. Nucleosome contains diverse modifications on both DNA and histones. These epigenetic marks not only modulate nucleosome structures and dynamics intrinsically but also recruit various factors to further shape the chromatin. To understand how chromatin factors read, write and erase the epigenetic marks, the most straightforward way is to visualize these processes at the highest resolution. Therefore, single-particle cryo-EM, a

Dr. Keda Zhou’s webpage

Dr. Ruben Hervas Millan

Amyloids are organized cross β -sheet-rich protein aggregates commonly associated with pathological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease. Our work, starting with the discovery that amyloids could act as a state encoding a “molecular memory”, is changing the view that amyloids are always unregulatable and pathological entities. We have now expanded the list of “functional amyloids” through the identification of additional amyloids involved in determining cell fate and controlling embryonic patterning in the fruit fly. Although our understanding of the principles that govern pathological protein aggregation is increasing, information about how amyloids could be functional, regulatable entities is scarce. This is due, in part, to the lack of high-resolution structural information of functional amyloids isolated from their native environment. In our lab, we use electron cryo-microscopy, which is the only high-resolution structural technique that allows atomic characterization of amyloid

filaments from the native environment, to determine the atomic structure of functional amyloids extracted from their native context and study the relationship between protein aggregation and physiology. We anticipate that studying the structure of endogenous amyloids could offer insight into the functional consequences of amyloid formation in vivo as well as into how organisms regulate amyloid assembly/disassembly to restrict their activity in time and space. In addition, understanding differences between functional and pathological amyloids may inform efforts to combat amyloid in lethal diseases. “Only when the structures of large numbers of proteins have been worked out will biochemists be in a position to answer many of the fundamental questions they have long been asking. —William H. Stein and Stanford Moore”.

Dr. Ruben Hervas Millan’s webpage

Dr. Yang Liu

Nucleosome is the basic structural unit of chromatin, where ~147 bp DNA is wrapped around by histone proteins to regulate the DNA accessibility. The nucleosome structures and dynamics thus regulate all the DNA-related cellular processes such as RNA transcription, DNA replication and DNA repair. Histone chaperones and chromatin remodelers are proteins that function in nucleosome assembly and chromatin architecture regulation, which make DNA accessible to these cellular processes in both normal cells and

cancer/tumor cells. To understand how histone chaperones and chromatin remodelers modulate the nucleosome structure, particularly in cancer/tumor, single-particle cryo-EM for structure determination will be critical to elucidate the interplays of macromolecules and the mechanisms in these essential processes. With the new cryo-EM core facility in HKU, structural biology will be profoundly promoted in the whole community, leading to both research breakthroughs and various collaborations.

Dr. Yang Liu’s webpage

Knowledge Exchange & Global Feature Story

Professor Julian Tanner and Dr. Lee Wei Lim awarded Silver Medals in the Special Edition 2022 Inventions Geneva Evaluation Days

Prof. Julian Tanner Awarded invention: Nucleic acid aptamers for malaria diagnosis

This invention employs DNA aptamers that recognise two important malaria biomarkers and can be applied to clinical diagnosis of malaria through integration with a microfluidic system which can be observed with mobile devices. Being easily synthesised and manufactured, the aptamers can serve as an alternative to antibodies in a more robust and less expensive manner. This research was developed over the previous eight years with a patent and important foundation paper in PNAS (jointly published with SBMS Senior Lecturer Dr Masayo Kotaka) leading into a series of papers using the aptamers in a variety of ways for malaria diagnosis. Mechanisms for diagnosis have most recently been developed using electrochemical sensors which can be adapted more easily for a next generation of mobile phone facilitated diagnostics. The project was developed by a research team led by Professor Julian Tanner from the School of Biomedical Sciences, HKUMed.

Dr. Lee Wei Lim Awarded invention: NevGro® - a Dietary Supplement for Brain Health

NevGro® is a dietary supplement for enhancing brain health and the compounds are extracted from Hericium erinaceus or the monkey head mushroom via an innovative aqueous extraction technique. The research team found that administration of NevGro® alleviated depressive-like symptoms through stimulating the growth of brain cells in the hippocampus, a brain region which is responsible for emotion, learning and memory. The study further revealed its neuroprotective effects against ataxia, by protecting the brain cells from degeneration in the cerebellum, which controls body coordination and motor function. The research studies were conducted at the Neuromodulation Laboratory, School of Biomedical Sciences, HKUMed ( led by Dr. Lee Wei Lim and Dr. Wong Kah Hui from University of Malaya. This product is co-invented and developed by Ms. Cheng Poh Guat, CEO of Ganofarm R&D Private Limited, and Ms. Chong Pit Shan, who worked on the project and awarded the Li Ka Shing Prize for the Best MPhil Thesis.

Congratulations Awards & External Grants Staff Awards International Innovation Awards, Malaysia Technology Expo Dr. Lee Wei Lim and his team were awarded the Gold Award in International Innovation Awards for the project “NevGro® for mighty mitochondria”.

Student Awards

“For Our Future Scholarship” from the GBS Homeland Youth Community Foundation: Ms. Barbara Wing Yan Wong, BBiomedSc, Year 3

Long Service Awards 2022: • For 40 years of service

Mr. Mou Fung Kam (Technical Manager) Ms. May Pui Lai Cheung (Senior Technician)

AIA Scholarship 2021/22: Mr. Marcus Wan Chun Tao, BBiomedSc, Year 1

• For 35 years of service Mr. Patrick Wing Leung Wong (Technical Manager)

• For 25 years of service Dr. Man Lung Fung (Associate Professor) Dr. Kwok Ming Yao (Principal Lecturer) Miss Wai Man Wong (Senior Technical Officer)

The Second Best Flash Talk in NSFC/RGC Workshop on Single-Cell Data Science: Ms. Rongting Huang, PhD candidate in Dr. Yuanhua Huang's lab

• For 15 years of service Dr. Joanna Wen Ying Ho (Lecturer)

Apr 1 & 29, May 13, 20 & 27, Jun 17 & 22, 2022 RPG Seminar Apr 4, 2022 HKUMedify Summer Programme: “World of Proteins” by Dr. Masayo Kotaka Apr 7, 2022 Invited Seminar by Dr. Fei Sun, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, HKUST Apr 11, 2022 Major-Minor Selection Talk (Biochemistry) by Dr. KM Yao Apr 11, 2022 Taster Week | Admissions Office: “What is the difference between a PCR test and a RAT test for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 virus” by Dr. Bonny Yuen Recap of Events School Highlights

May 4, 2022 BSc Major in Biochemistry (BIOC3999/BIOC4966) Project Presentations

Jun 9, 2022 Invited Seminar by Prof. Melissa Little, Department of Pediatrics, University of Melbourne

May 4, 2022 Research Chalk Talk by Prof. Xiaoyu Li, Department of Chemistry, HKU May 5, 2022 Invited Seminar by Prof. Licia Selleri, Institute for Human Genetics, Department of Orofacial Sciences and Department of Anatomy, University of California San Francisco May 6, 2022 Virtual Poster Session of the Undergraduate Research Fellowship Programme (URFP) 2021-22 May 12, 2022 Invited Seminar by Dr. Peter van Galen, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Hematology Division, Brigham and Women’s Hospital May 19, 2022 Invited Seminar by Dr. Yilin Wu, Department of Physics, CUHK May 24, 2022 Online Taster Lecture and Admissions Talk for JUPAS Information Week by Dr. Joshua Ho & Dr. Masayo Kotaka May 26, 2022 T&L Chalk Talk by Dr. Polly SL Chan & Dr. Esther WS Lo, School of Nursing, HKUMed

Jun 10, 2022 SBMS Research Retreat

Jun 15, 2022 HKU Biomed Entrepreneurship Talk Series by Dr. Alan Pang, Chief Executive Officer, TGD Life Company Limited

Apr 13, Jun 1 & 29, 2022 PDF Seminar

Jun 16, 2022 Information Session for Research Postgraduate Studies

Apr 19, 2022 Online Lecture for the “Master Class Series” of LoveHK LoveU by Dr. Joshua Ho Apr 21, 2022 BBiomedSc & BSc(Bioinformatics) Non-JUPAS Interview Apr 21, 2022 Invited Seminar by Dr. Rui Zhang, Department of Physics, HKUST Apr 29, 2022 BBMS4001 Final Year Project Oral Presentations Apr 29, 2022 Research Colloquium for Science Undergraduate Students 2021-22 May 3, 2022 BSc Major in Biochemistry (BIOC4999) Project Presentations

Jun 22, 2022 BBiomedSc JUPAS Interview

Jun 23, 2022 Research Chalk Talk by Dr. Xiucong Bao

Jun 24, 2022 T&L Chalk Talk by Prof. Michael Botelho, Faculty of Dentistry & Dr. Tyrone Kwok, Technology-Enriched Learning Initiative (TELI) Jun 25, 2022 Hong Kong Inter-University Postgraduate Symposium in Life Science

May 31, 2022 SBMS First-Year RPG Discussion

Jun 2, 2022 Invited Seminar by Dr. Shang Cai, Westlake Institute of Advanced Studies, Westlake University

Jun 28 & July 29, 2022 BSc(Bioinformatics) JUPAS Interview

Student Awards

External Grants Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Macau Technology Research Programme (Type C) A grand total of RMB 1,000,000 has been awarded to Dr. Joshua Ho.

Yu To Sang and Yu Shing Keung Memorial Fund Scholarship 2021/22: Miss Feng Hu, PhD candidate in Dr. Martin Cheung's lab

Wiley top cited article 2020-21: Mr. Chaiyaporn Kuwentrai, PhD student, whose paper "Intradermal delivery of receptor-binding domain of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein with dissolvable microneedles to induce humoral and cellular responses in mice", has been recognized as Wiley top cited article 2020-21 in Bioengineering & Translational Medicine.

School Highlights In the Media

All Media Coverage

Mar 30, 2022 - Media Coverage: Dr. Stephanie Ma shared her rewarding experience in science communication and science outreach through an interview with Croucher Foundation

Apr 4, 2022 - Press Release: Dr. Martin Cheung and his team discover new molecular mechanism in promoting melanoma angiogenesis and metastasis, paving the way for new therapeutic opportunities

May 16, 2022 - Media Coverage: Prof. Pengtao Liu’s article on Expansion of Stem Cells published in am730

Apr 25, 2022 - Media Coverage: Prof. Dong-Yan Jin’s article on COVID-19 related topics published in am730

May 30, 2022 - Media Coverage: Dr. Alan Wong’s article on Impact of CRISPR Technologies published in am730

May 30, 2022 - Media Coverage: Dr. Joshua Ho’s article on Bioinformatics in Biomedical Sciences and Related Career Opportunities published in am730

Jun 2, 2022 - Dr. Cheng-Han Yu and his team, together with Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) identify biomechanical and molecular signals that trigger early progression of atherosclerosis

Jun 13, 2022 - Media Coverage: BBiomedSc graduate Mr. Aaron Chi Kit Tong (2015-16 intake) shared his experience in the Articulation Programme through an interview by a local media

Jun 6, 2022 - Press Release: Dr. Clive Chung ’s article on Biology vs Biomedical Sciences published in am730

New Equipment School Highlights

Large capacity centrifuge (Hitachi/ Himac CR7N) Refrigerated high capacity centrifuge with swinging bucket rotor for low speed centrifugation

High speed centrifuge (Hitachi/ Himac CR22N)

Bacterial shaking incubator (Labwit/ ZWYR2402)

Refrigerated high speed centrifuge with fixed angle rotors

Refrigerated bacterial shaking incubator

Location: L3-28, Lab Block Tech-in-charge: Mr. Anthony Tsang | 3917 9248

Location: L3-28, Lab Block Tech-in-charge: Mr. Anthony Tsang | 3917 9248

Location: L3-30, Lab Block Tech-in-charge: Ms. Sheila Tsang | 3917 9481

4D-Nucleofector (Lonza / Core +X+Yunits)

Whole cell patch-clamp system (Axon/ Multiclamp 700B, Digidata 1440A; Nikon/ Eclipse Ti)

For cell transfection

For measurement of electrical properties of whole-cell

Location: L4-18, Lab Block Tech-in-charge: Ms. Kary Xu | 3917 9268

Location: L4-03, Lab Block Tech-in-charge: Dr. Trista Kwan | 3917 9274

*Corresponding Authors | # Co-first Authors | School Members in Bold and Orange Font Publications Highlights

1. Fung SY, Siu KL, Lin H, Chan CP , Yeung ML, Jin DY* . SARS-CoV-2 NSP13 helicase suppresses interferon signaling by perturbing JAK1 phosphorylation of STAT1. Cell Biosci. 2022 Mar 22;12(1):36. 2. Cheng WY , Ho YS*, Chang RC* . Linking circadian rhythms to microbiome-gut-brain axis in aging-associated neurodegenerative diseases. Ageing Res Rev. 2022 Apr 8;78:101620. 3. Hu YF# , Hu JC#, Gong HR#, Danchin A, Sun R , Chu H, Hung IF, Yuen KY, To KK, Zhang BZ*, Yau T*, Huang JD* . Computation of antigenicity predicts SARS-CoV-2 vaccine breakthrough variants. Front Immunol. 2022 Mar 24;13:861050. 4. Ye ZW#, Ong CP# , Tang K#, Fan Y# , Luo C, Zhou R, Luo P, Cheng Y, Gray VS , Wang P, Chu H, Chan JF, To KK, Chen H, Chen Z, Yuen KY, Ling GS* , Yuan S*, Jin DY* . Intranasal administration of a single dose of a candidate live attenuated vaccine derived from an NSP16-deficient SARS-CoV-2 strain confers sterilizing immunity in animals. Cell Mol Immunol. 2022 Mar 29:1–14. 5. Chan KY, Kinghorn AB , Hollenstein M, Tanner JA* . Chemical modifications for a next generation of nucleic acid aptamers. Chembiochem. 2022 Apr 13. doi: 10.1002/cbic.202200006. 6. Swiatlowska P#, Sit B#, Feng Z# , Marhuenda E, Xanthis I, Zingaro S, Ward M, Zhou X, Xiao Q, Shanahan C, Jones GE, Yu CH* , Iskratsch T*. Pressure and stiffness sensing together regulate vascular smooth muscle cell phenotype switching. Sci Adv. 2022 Apr 15;8(15):eabm3471. 7. Jin W, He Y, Li T, Long F, Qin X, Yuan Y, Gao G, Shakhawat HM , Liu X, Jin G*, Zhou Z* . Rapid and robust derivation of mesenchymal stem cells from human pluripotent stem cells via temporal induction of neuralized ectoderm. Cell Biosci. 2022 Mar 15;12(1):31. 8. Thean DG#, Chu HY#, Fong JH, Chan BK, Zhou P, Kwok CC , Chan YM, Mak SY, Choi GC, Ho JW , Zheng Z, Wong AS* . Machine learning-coupled combinatorial mutagenesis enables resource-efficient engineering of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editor activities. Nat Commun. 2022 Apr 25;13(1):2219. 9. Du Z*, Tian L*, Jin DY* . Understanding the impact of rapid antigen tests on SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the fifth wave of COVID-19 in Hong Kong in early 2022. Emerg Microbes Infect. 2022 May 10:1-19. 10. Wang H#, Zheng C#, Lu W, He T, Fan J, Wang C , Jie Q, Chan D, Cheah KS*, Yang L* . Hedgehog signaling orchestrates cartilage-to-bone transition independently of Smoothened. Matrix Biol. 2022 Apr 23:S0945-053X(22)00058-0. 11. Ti SC* . Reconstituting microtubules: A decades-long effort from building block identification to the generation of recombinant α / β -tubulin. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2022 Apr 28;10:861648. 12. Zhang BZ#, Shuai H#, Gong HR# , Hu JC#, Yan B#, Yuen TT, Hu YF , Yoon C, Wang XL , Hou Y, Lin X , Huang X, Li R, Au-Yeung YM , Li W, Hu B, Chai Y, Yue M , Cai JP, Ling GS , Hung IF, Yuen KY, Chan JF*, Huang JD* , Chu H*. Bacillus Calmette-Guérin-induced trained immunity protects against SARS-CoV-2 challenge in K18-hACE2 mice. JCI Insight. 2022 Apr 21:e157393. 13. Hou R, Huang Y* . Genomic sequences and RNA binding proteins predict RNA splicing efficiency in various single-cell contexts. Bioinformatics. 2022 May 13:btac321. 14. Li H, Barbour JA, Zhu X, Wong JW* . Gene expression is a poor predictor of steady-state metabolite abundance in cancer cells. FASEB J. 2022 May;36(5):e22296. 15. Cao H, Sugimura R* . Off-the-shelf chimeric antigen receptor immune cells from human pluripotent stem cells. Cancer Treat Res. 2022;183:255-274. 16. Gao S, Sugimura R* . The single-cell level perspective of the tumor microenvironment and its remodeling by CAR-T Cells. Cancer Treat Res. 2022;183:275-285. 17. Sugimura R*, Chao Y . Deciphering innate immune cell-tumor microenvironment crosstalk at a single-cell level. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2022 May 13;10: 803947. 18. Sugimura R*, Wang CY . The role of innate lymphoid cells in cancer development and immunotherapy. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2022 Apr 26;10:803563. 19. Hou Y#, Jing J#, Luo Y, Xu F, Xie W, Ma L, Xia X, Wei Q, Lin Y*, Li KH*, Chu Z* . A versatile, incubator-compatible, monolithic GaN photonic chipscope for label-free monitoring of live cell activities. Adv Sci. 2022 Jun;9(17):e2200910. doi: 10.1002/advs.202200910. 20. Yu WS, Tse AC, Guan L, Chiu JL, Tan SZ, Khairuddin S , Agadagba SK, Lo ACY, Fung ML, Chan YS , Chan LLH*, Lim LW* . Antidepressant-like effects of transcorneal electrical stimulation in rat models. Brain Stimul. 2022 May 28;15(3):843-856. 21. Huang C#, Chu JM#, Liu Y, Kwong VS, Chang RC* , Wong GT*. Sevoflurane induces neurotoxicity in the animal model with Alzheimer's disease neuropathology via modulating glutamate transporter and neuronal apoptosis. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Jun 2;23(11):6250. 22. Yu J#, Kuwentrai C#, Gong HR, Li R, Zhang BZ, Lin X, Wang X, Huang JD* , Xu C*. Intradermal delivery of mRNA using cryomicroneedles. Acta Biomater. 2022 Jun 10:S1742-7061(22)00353-1.

Research Highlights Come Learn about our School's Research Dr. Chul Kwon RNA Engineering for Diagnosis and Therapy

Dr. Chul Kwon’s webpage

I would like to define the last 20 years as the golden era of RNA "biology." We have identified many novel regulatory RNAs, such as microRNAs and long non-coding RNAs, and revealed their functions and action mechanisms. Furthermore, we could experimentally identify most RNA-binding proteins and unveil their binding sites based on the remarkable development of proteomics and sequencing technologies. Again, the recent discovery of mRNA modifications has broadened our understanding of the gene expression process. Two years ago, we started our lab at HKU and had to decide what we would do here. I thought the future would be the era of Engineering Biology, which applies biological (and non-biological) knowledge to the real world to improve human welfare. In this point of view, RNA is a fascinating molecule because RNA can be the message itself or its regulator. Alnylam's siRNA drugs or Moderna's mRNA vaccines are compelling examples.

Our long-term vision is to create new RNA-related enzymes for diagnosis and therapy. To achieve this, now we are studying RNA-targeting Cas proteins and transposases. Our expertise in protein structures and RNA biochemistry is critical to this approach. In addition, AlphaFold, newly sequenced genomes, and the reduced cost for DNA synthesis provide an exciting research environment. Now we are standing on the shoulders of giants to make new RNA regulatory methods, which we did not have before.

Dr. Rio Sugimura Engineering Immunology for Cancer Immunotherapy

Dr. Rio Sugimura's webpage

The mission of The Blood Engineering Lab (BEL) is to define fundamental principles of anti-cancer immune cells and apply these insights toward improving chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technology and anti-PD-1 immunotherapy. We apply cutting-edge approaches including single-cell RNA sequencing, spatial transcriptomics, molecular barcoding, organoids, and stem cell differentiation. The goal is to invent new tools for understanding and treating cancers. Our lab pursues Engineering Immunology to exploit the power of both innate and adaptive immune cells to target cancers. Our active research area is 1) specification of functional immune cells from stem cells, 2) defining molecular switches of innate immune cells, and 3) remodeling tumor microenvironment. Our ultimate goal is the clinical application of immunotherapy for liver cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia.

We work at the intersection of bioengineering and cancer immunology to invent new tools for understanding and treating cancers.

Dr. Sugimura is an accomplished scientist, recognized for his outstanding contributions to the field of hematology and stem cell biology. He is interested in using single-cell barcoding technology to delineate single-cell lineage maps of immune cells in human organoids and its application to cancer immunotherapy. His major contribution includes the identification of the crucial cellular metabolisms that regulate blood stem cells (Sugimura, 2012, Cell ), and the exploitation of the genetic program to specify blood stem cells from human pluripotent stem cells (Sugimura, 2017, Nature ).

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

Aug 6, 2022 Body Donation Day

Jul 9, 2022 The 206th Congregation, HKUMed

Jul 13, 2022 BSc(Bioinformatics) Taster Lecture

Jul 21, 2022 The 206th Congregation, Faculty of Science

Aug 19, 2022 (tentative) SBMS Teaching & Learning Retreat

Jul 11, 2022 HKU STEM Bootcamp on Data Science (STEM 2022) - "Introduction to Biomedical Data Science" by Dr. Joshua Ho & Dr. Jason Wong

Jul 29, 2022 BBiomedSc JUPAS Interview

Aug 22, 2022 HKUMed Induction Talk and Breakout Session

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