HKU Research Postgraduate Symposium 2024

The HKU Research Postgraduate Symposium was held on March 4, 2024 (Monday) at Lecture Hall II, Centennial Campus, HKU, to showcase the learning progress of research postgraduate (RPg) students and promote the exchange of knowledge and ideas.

Awardees of the HKU Presidential PhD Scholar (HKU-PS) Programme admitted in 2022/23 and recipients of the HKU Foundation Publication Award for Research Postgraduate Students 2023 and the Research Postgraduate Student Innovation Award 2023/24 gathered at the Symposium to share their research project and interim findings in the form of poster presentation. To celebrate the research excellence of our students and graduates, the annual Award Presentation Ceremony was held on the same day.

Staff and RPg students were invited to join us and engage themselves in enlightening discussions with our presenters, and to share the joy with our awardees.


Date:     March 4, 2024 (Monday)
Venue:  Lecture Hall II, LG/F, Centennial Campus, HKU

9:00 – 9:30am


9:30 – 9:35am

Opening Address
  Professor Dong-Yan Jin, Senior Associate Dean, Graduate School

9:35 – 10:15am

Keynote Speech #1
  Religion: A Source for Conflict or A Tool for Peacebuilding?
  Professor Dr Iselin Frydenlund 
  Professor, Religious Studies, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society

10:15am – 12:30pm

Poster Presentation: Session A

12:30 – 1:40pm

Lunch Note 2

12:45 – 1:40pm  Meet and Greet the Keynote Speakers
  Professor Dr Iselin Frydenlund (CPD-LG.60)
  Professor Andras Nagy (CPD-LG.63)

1:40 – 3:55pm

Poster Presentation: Session B

3:55 – 4:35pm

Keynote Speech #2
  Safe and Universal Stem Cell Source for Off-the-Shelf Therapeutic Cell Products
  Professor Andras Nagy
  Shawn Kimel Senior Scientist, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health System, Toronto, Canada

4:35 – 4:40pm

Remarks by the President
Professor Xiang Zhang, President and Vice-Chancellor

4:40 – 5:45pm

Award Presentation 


1. Students who are required to present in the poster sessions are expected to attend the whole Symposium from 9am to 5:45pm.
2. Sandwich lunch will be provided to all presenters and judging panel members during the lunch break.

Poster Presentation

The Symposium offers an interactive platform, encouraging open discussions among students and the audience. There are two poster presentation sessions and students are divided into 13 groups. 7 groups will be in Session A and 6 groups will be in Session B. 

Important Information for Presenters:

For HKU-PS awardees of the 2021/22 cohort and thereafter, the HKU-PS Advisory Panel and Thesis Advisory Committee will take into consideration the poster presentation when recommending the continuation, or otherwise, of the HKU Presidential PhD Scholarship.

Best Poster Presenter Awards (click here for the list of awardees)
A judging panel will select the best presenter from each group. Each award includes a certificate and a cash prize of HK$1,000. The assessment criteria for poster presentation below:

Poster Content

 - Background comprehendible for field outsiders
 - Methodology explained in appropriate detail
 - Interim results well summarised and concluded

 - Originality and scientific merit

Poster Style, Organisation and Visuals

 - Organisation (logical order and progression of ideas)
 - Visual appeal (attractive and balanced, effective use of images, diagrams, figures, space etc.)  
 - Legibility of text, figures, and tables (proper text scaling, simple, illustrative)

Presentation Skill


 - Clear, concise and professional presentation (eye contact, voice projection, pacing, confidence etc.) ​
 - Addresses questions satisfactorily​
 - Demonstrates comprehensive understanding of topic​

The Best Poster Presenter Awards will be announced on the same day during the award presentation session. 

Keynote Speech #1
Professor Dr Iselin Frydenlund


Religion: A Source for Conflict or A Tool for Peacebuilding?

Professor Dr Iselin Frydenlund 
Professor, Religious Studies
MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society


Professor Iselin Frydenlund is Professor of the Study of Religion at MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society and a Fellow of the MF Centre for the Advanced Study of Religion. She specialises in questions relating to Buddhism and its societal impact, focusing on Buddhism, politics, nationalism and violence in Sri Lanka and Myanmar. She also works on Buddhist-Muslim relations in Buddhist majority states in Asia and is the PI of the Research Council of Norway-funded research project INTERSECT (“Intersecting Flows of Islamophobia”). Since 2016, she has also been heading an academic exchange programme between MF and Myanmar Institute of Theology. Professor Frydenlund regularly appears in national and international media on questions related to Buddhism and politics, and she frequently provides analysis for policy-makers at home and abroad. Her latest book is Buddhist-Muslim Relations in a Theravada World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), co-edited with Michael Jerryson. She is currently working on a monograph on Buddhism as a social and political force in Asia.


The world appears as unstable as ever, with new military conflicts creating chaos, fear and immense civilian suffering. In several of the ongoing conflicts, religion appears to play an important – if not crucial – role. In this talk, Professor Frydenlund will ask key questions: Does religion really matter in war and peace? What is the potential for religious actors in peacebuilding? What is the outcome of religious dialogue? This talk will analyse the multidimensional – and often ambiguous – roles of religion in conflict situations. It analyses the religion–war nexus from multiple perspectives, moving beyond the common-sense perception that religion matters, to indicate in what ways religion matters for war and peace. Finally, while providing some answers to the question ‘What’s the deal with religion’, this talk also asks ‘How to deal with it’, a question that points to dilemmas connected to religion and peacebuilding, from both a policy-making and an academic perspective.

Keynote Speech #2
Professor Andras Nagy


Safe and Universal Stem Cell Source for Off-the-Shelf Therapeutic Cell Products

Professor Andras Nagy
Shawn Kimel Senior Scientist,
Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health System, Toronto, Canada


Dr. Andras Nagy is currently a Shawn Kimel Senior Scientist at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health System, Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto and Professor at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute in Monash University, Melbourne. He holds a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Stem Cells and Regeneration. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in the Life Sciences Division of the Academy of Science. Dr. Nagy is also a Foreign Member of the Hungarian Academy of Science, an Honorary Professor at the Helsinki University, and a Distinguished Professor at the Hong Kong University.

Dr. Nagy has made significant breakthroughs in developmental genetics, mouse and human pluripotent stem cell biology (both embryonic and reprogramming-induced), disease modelling and cell therapy approaches. His team created the first Canadian human embryonic stem cell lines in early 2000. In 2009, they developed the first method allowing the generation of iPS cell lines without any genetic change. Their approach allowed studying the reprogramming process at multiple OMICS levels, almost at daily resolution from differentiated cells to pluripotency. His current research has become even more translational by addressing and coming up with solutions for two significant hurdles of cell therapies: safety and allogeneic cell acceptance without the need for suppression of the immune system. Dr. Nagy’s research in cell-based therapy aims to advance medicine with a focus on treating incurable degenerative diseases, such as blindness, diabetes mellitus, arthritis, spinal cord injury, ageing, haemophilia, hypothyroidism, chronic pain, and multiple neurological disorders, including multiple sclerosis, depression, and bipolar disease.


The use of ex-vivo cultured allogeneic cells is currently being considered for treating degenerative conditions. However, one of the biggest challenges is achieving allograft tolerance without the need for immune suppression. To address this issue, we transgenically expressed eight local-acting, immune-modulatory transgenes in cells. We hypothesized that this would protect them against rejection and achieve induced Allogeneic Cell Tolerance (iACT) in fully immune-competent mice. Our results showed that allogeneic allografts survived long-term, without the use of immunosuppressive drugs. 

Since the immune-modulatory genes have highly conserved functions, this strategy could also work in the human system. By using iACT stem cells, we could potentially provide off-the-shelf available cells to treat/cure medical conditions without the need for immune suppression of the patient.

It is crucial to ensure safety in immune evasive cell-based therapies to eliminate the risk of developing cancer, as these cells are not subjected to immune surveillance. A highly reliable kill-switch called "FailSafe™" was developed to eliminate cells with cancerous potential or uncontrolled growth. This system also provides safety data for informed decisions by doctors, regulators, and patients for more effective and safe cell therapies that can transform modern medicine.

The FailSafe™ cell, when combined with iACT genome editing, allows for the creation of a single pluripotent cell line that can be used as a source of readily available therapeutic cell products. These cells can then be further modified to express biologics, enabling them to target the underlying mechanism of a disease by providing biologics, including anti-inflammatory or analgesic factors, as well as antibodies against infections. Some models will be presented for such a combination of gene and allogeneic cell therapy.

Student Organising Committee

Meet our student organising committee

Award Presentation

Best Poster Presenter Awards: List of Awardees

Prizes obtained in 2023/24: List of Awardees

Registration for HKU Staff and Students

All staff and RPg students are welcome. Registration is required for the two keynote speeches, meeting the keynote speakers and award presentation session.  Interested staff and students please register here [registration closed]. 

(Registration for the keynote sessions and award presentation session are NOT required for students who will participate in the poster presentation session and/or have been invited for receiving an award.)

Registration for Non-HKU Students

The event is opened to all postgraduate students in the UGC-funded sector. Interested students please register here [registration closed].

Event Recap


Photo Gallery

Past Symposiums

HKU Presidential Scholars Symposium 2023

*The Symposium has been supported by the Postgraduate Students Conference/Seminar Grants of the Research Grants Council, Hong Kong.