from Prof W. I. R. Davies, Acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong
from Prof P. Kourilsky, Director general of the Institut Pasteur
from Dr J. Kung, Chairman of the Board of
Directors of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre
The Honourable Mr Tung Chee Hwa, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, , People's Republic of China, unveiled the plaque of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre on October 24th, 2000. On his right standed Dr J. Kung, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre and in front of him Prof W. Davies, Acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong and Prof Kourilsky, Director General of the Institut Pasteur.
From right to left: Mr J-L Maslin, Scientific and Cultural Conseiller of the Consulate General of France; Prof KY Yuen, Co-Scientific Director of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre, alternate member of the Board of Directors of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre; Prof G Tang, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, member of the Board of Directors of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre; Prof SK Lam, chief of the Department of Medicine, member of the Board of Directors of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre; Prof P. Kourilsky, Director General of the Institut Pasteur; Prof W. Davies, Acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong; The Honourable Mr Tung Chee Hwa, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, People's Republic of China, Dr J. Kung, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre; Mr J. Pasquier, Consule General of France; Prof A. Danchin, Acting Scientific Director of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre; Mrs M. Lee, lawyer and member of the of Directors of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre; Dr M-F Saron, member of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre.
Speech by Prof W I. R. DAVIES
Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong
Let me begin by thanking our dignitaries today, the Chief Executive Mr C.H. Tung and his wife Mrs Betty Tung, patron of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre, who have so kindly agreed to unveil the plaque. I would also like to extend my thanks to our officiating guests, Professor Philippe Kourilsky, Director of the Institut Pasteur, and Dr James Kung, Chairman of the Board of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre together with Mr Jérôme Pasquier, Consul General of France.
The inauguration of this Centre today is an historic event for it marks the birth of a truly international partnership in the fight against emerging and recurring diseases. This collaboration brings together those in the forefront of research in infectious diseases and microbiology from east and west. This unique and happy marriage between HKU and the prestigious Institut Pasteur will, I am sure, break new ground in the research and prevention of the diseases that have plagued mankind for centuries. It will also help identify newly-emerging infectious diseases.
As I was saying at a Press Conference earlier this afternoon, for over half a century the University of Hong Kong’s Medical Faculty has established for itself an enviable reputation as a leader in the research of tropical diseases in Asia. With some of the world’s foremost experts and some of the region’s finest facilities the Faculty of Medicine has tracked down and identified numerous locally-emerging infectious diseases. It has identified not only those dangerous to mankind but also those that have struck our animals and livestock. The launch of the Centre of Infection in 1998 consolidated our strength in this area and today that Centre leads the region in fostering collaboration with international institutions.
Our relationship with the world-renowned Institut Pasteur dates back as far as 1978 when the University was invited to investigate the mysterious death of dolphins, whales and seals at Ocean Park. Our investigators successfully isolated an unusual bacterium from the animals - a diagnosis which was subsequently confirmed by the Institut Pasteur.
Perhaps it was prophetic, or maybe just coincidence, but the University of Hong Kong and the Institut Pasteur share certain elements of similarity in their historical backgrounds. In 1887 the Hong Kong College of Medicine was established and it was this College that formed the basis of the University of Hong Kong. One of the College’s founders was Sir Patrick Manson, often spoken of as “the Father of Tropical Medicine”. In the selfsame year, an Institut Pasteur was founded in Paris to commemorate Louis Pasteur, “the Father of Microbiology”. It may have taken more than a century for these two institutions, born in the same year, to come together in one enterprise but there is little doubt that we have long shared the same pioneering vision and a similar quest to promote medical and scientific research for the betterment of mankind.
The scientific work conducted at this new HKU-Pasteur Centre will have far-reaching implications for the health of people way beyond the confines of our own shores. The contributions of this Centre to the body of knowledge in emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases will extend to all corners of the globe and benefit current and future generations.
The University of Hong Kong is justifiably proud of this alliance. And
we are greatly indebted to the Consulate
General of France for its support. My special thanks must go to Dr
James Kung, who has made a tremendous personal effort in bringing about
the creation of the Centre and of today’s event. He has been
instrumental in bringing our two institutions together and I am
confident that, with the combined efforts of the University and the
Institut we will go on to achieve very significant advances in medical
science. Thank you.
I am very happy, and very proud to be with you today to celebrate the inauguration of the Hong Kong University-Pasteur Research Center.
Relationships between China and the Institut Pasteur started at the begining of our Foundation, here, in Hong Kong, when the famous pasteurian Alexandre Yersin discovered the " black death " pathogen, in 1894. Later on, the Pasteur Institute in Shanghai was created in 1938, and remained open and very active until 1950.
All along the XXth century, several scientific links were developped between Chinese scientists and scientists at the Institut Pasteur.
So, it is a great pleasure for me today to participate to the celebration of this new step in our relationship. I would like to thank all those who contributed to make it possible, particularly : The Honorable Mr. Tung Chea Hwa, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region authorities, all the Hong Kong University team, and particularly Pr. Grace Tang, Dean of the faculty of Medicine, Pr. WIR Davies, Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong, the French Consulate in Hong Kong, Pr. Kwok Yung Yuen, Pr. Antoine Danchin, and last but not least, Dr. James Kung, the real father of this project, and so many others, please forgive me not to mention everybody. Thanks to all of you.
Together, we can contribute to bring solutions to millions of people
around the world, who suffer from many diseases.
Together, we can develop efficient research programmes to prevent and cure these diseases.
Together, we can prepare future remarkable young scientists from different countries.
Together, we have a great vision to achieve.
Let me now tell you few words about the Institut Pasteur
Institut Pasteur is a private, non profit-making Foundation, dedicated to public health, worldwide.
Founded in 1887, after Louis Pasteur had succesfully developed his vaccine against rabies, the Institut Pasteur has always had three major visions :
- Biological research, mainly focused on infectious diseases,
- Public health applications,
These three visions are intimately linked:
- Upsteam scientific research in biology is the only way to understand the secret of life and to allow real medical progress by opening new roots for innovations.
- But, these innovations have a value only if they can be applied to solve human health problems.
- In the same way, new knowlege from research, has no value if it is not shared by publications and teaching.
Institut Pasteur has a long history of major discoveries, among which many vaccines such as those against diphteria, yellow fever, polyomyelitis, the first genetically engineered vaccine, for hepatitis B, but also, the discovery of H.I.V., and the corresponding tests, the complete sequence of the genome of bacteria responsible for tuberculosis, isolation of the first neurotransmission receptor, etc.
8 pasteurians were distinguished by a Nobel prize .
Public health objectives remain one of our priorities.
For instance, Institut Pasteur has a major role in monitoring and surveillance of transmissible diseases, such as influenza, hepatitis, AIDS, meningitis, listeriosis, salmonella infections, rabies, etc., with 19 reference national centres and 10 WHO (World Health Organization) affiliated laboratories.
These activities are carried out in close liaison with the International Network of the twenty Institut Pasteur or Associated Institutes spread on the five continents.
Most of these Institutes are fully independent from Institut Pasteur. Their visions are defined in agreement with the local health authorities, primarily focused on public health: biomedical analyses, vaccinations, water and food quality control, microbiological survey. They also host research centres, specialized in specific local infectious diseases. They also train scientists and technicians from the country and from the region where they are located.
Most of them are national reference centers or World Health Organization collaborating centres, specialized in epemiological surveillance of mainly tropical diseases that keep killing 20 million people each year.
All these institutes benefit not only from the support of the Institut Pasteur, but also from their direct inter-relationships. For instance, at the regional level they share their expertise and their information, on local and regional diseases.
Our will is to develop this international cooperation in different areas, and in different ways. Patnerships with universities, research centres, as well as with industrial companies will be expanded.
The Teaching Centre at the Institut Pasteur in Paris yearly attracts about 1,000 PhD students, post graduates, and trainees from 60 nationalities. Courses alternate with laboratory work. We would be very happy to develop these activities with the University of Hong Kong.
At the dawn of the XXIst century, to achieve our visions, we must be adapted to the new prevailing conditions. Research in biology and its applications are evolving rapidly, mainly with genomics and cell therapy. It requests more and more talents and sophisticated equipments.
Scientific discovery is more and more at the interface between different expertises, such as, today, biology and computer sciences or biology and sociology.
Emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases concern now all countries, mainly because of world-wide travel development.
Public health issues of fundamental concern to society have become more and more international.
I am sure that the HKU–Pasteur Reseach Centre will contribute to better undestand and fight these potential terrible diseases. I am very enthusiastic about this joint effort and I wish Pr. Antoine Danchin and Pr. KY Yuen and their team the best success in their scientific work for the benefit of public health.
Thank you for your attention.
Speech by Dr James KUNG
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre
Today is a most important and memorable day in the history of medical research in Hong Kong. I am justifiably proud to say that the establishment of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre, a joint venture of the University of Hong Kong and the Institut Pasteur, marks an important step toward international collaborative research for the betterment of mankind.
The agreement to set up the HKU-Pasteur Centre was signed between the University of Hong Kong and the Institut Pasteur just one year ago. The collaboration of these excellent institutions will undoubtedly create a synergy that is vital to achieving the vision of the centre, namely to fight infectious diseases.
The brainstorm for the research centre can be dated back to six years ago when I first met Mr. Bernard Esambert, former Chairman of the Board of Governors of Insitut Pasteur, who shared with me a common vision to set up an advance research laboratory in Asia.
With the support of the University of Hong Kong and the Institut Pasteur of France we are pleased to see that the vision becomes a reality today.
Therefore, on behalf of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Davies of the University of Hong Kong and Professor Kourilsky, director-general of the Institut Pasteur, France, for their valuable advice and support in setting up of this world class research centre. I am confident that joint efforts of professional scientists from the two prestigious institutions will create and enhance our knowledge about emerging infectious diseases, which take a heavy toll on mankind.
During the process of setting up the research centre we have received continued encouragement and support from both the governments of Hong Kong and France.
It is our honour to have the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Honourable Mr Tung Chee Hwa, joining us today to witness the inauguration of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre.
Last but not least, I would like to thank once again everyone from the University of Hong Kong, The Institut Pasteur, the Consulate-General of France and many of our friends, both local and overseas, who have helped in founding the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre. It is only because of all your hard work and continuous support that we are able to take the first major step toward this meaningful task.