Presidential Distinguished Lecture: Prof. Lap-Chee Tsui Inspires Your Future


Hong Kong Chu Hai College has proudly presented the "Ng Teng Fong • Sino Presidential Distinguished Lecture" series, inviting world-renowned scholars and leaders from various fields to share their profound insights on different topics. The college was honoured to have invited Professor Lap-Chee Tsui, an authority in human genetics and 14th president of the University of Hong Kong, to deliver a lecture to students and staff on 13 May 2024.

Themed "From My Past to Your Future," Prof. Tsui shared his personal experiences, tempering footprints from genetic research to university administration. He brought immersive inspiration to the floor and provoked deep reflection.

Prof. Tsui shared his personal experiences.

Prof. Tsui’s ancestral home is Hangzhou, Zhejiang. He was born in Shanghai in 1950 and moved to Hong Kong with his parents at the age of three. He possessed a curious mind and passion for creativity since childhood. Although he initially aspired to become an architect or designer, his studies at Perth Street Government Middle School (now known as Homantin Government Secondary School), a Chinese secondary school, turned him in no position to apply for admission to the University of Hong Kong. Consequently, he made the decision to pursue biology and enrolled at the Chinese University of Hong Kong's New Asia College.

After completing his bachelor's and master's degrees at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prof. Tsui embarked on his doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh in the United States. Throughout his academic journey, he engaged in genetics research at renowned institutions including Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. In 1989, Prof. Tsui achieved a remarkable milestone in the field of human genetics by identifying the defective gene responsible for cystic fibrosis.

The two-year teaching at Chu Hai College is one of the gem stones of his career path he treasures much. Prof. Tsui emphasized that university life is an important stage of learning. He cited the undergraduate studies following his indebted teacher Prof. Mark Kai Keung who required tremendous field trips and specimen collections, as well as wild camping. These help cultivating his belief in practice, plus raising organizational and leadership skills, which were proved valuable in his subsequent development, whether in the field of research or university administration.

Prof. Tsui remarked research work involves more than just laboratory activities. It includes administrative scopes like securing research funding, publishing scientific articles, and giving presentations. Effective communication skills are crucial, as researchers must convey complex concepts in a clear and understandable manner. Additionally, Prof. Tsui mentioned that he occasionally had to act as a counsellor, resolving emotional conflicts among his assistants

Transitioning from a scientist to the President of the University of Hong Kong, Prof. Tsui referred to it as an "evolution" because university administration work is more complex. Prof. Tsui places great importance on communication. Throughout his tenure at the University of Hong Kong, he actively engaged in dialogues with members from all sections and stakeholders of the university, seeking to understand the internal situations and gather diverse opinions.

Even a centennial academic institution is urged to innovate and seek change to maintain competitiveness. Prof. Tsui successfully led reforms in human resources structures and personnel management, formulated the university's five-year strategic plan, and promoted strategic developments in research, teaching, and engagement with societal knowledge.

Furthermore, he placed special emphasis on academic development, firmly believing that the academic level of a university depends on the drive of its faculties. During his tenure, he dedicated significant efforts to enhance the quality of teaching staff and research at the University of Hong Kong, successfully transformed it into a renowned center for genetic research.

Prof. Tsui quoted the famous ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky, saying, "A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be." Finally, he encouraged everyone to delve deeper into self-analyses, find suitable fields for development, and be prepared to seize opportunities.

Interim President Ms. Jane Zhang thanked Prof. Tsui for visiting Hong Kong Chu Hai College and giving a lecture.

The lecture drew enthusiastic participation from students and staff.

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