As a research-intensive institution, the University of Hong Kong aims both to investigate fundamental problems and to contribute to the application of knowledge. We will carry out research in an environment that supports discovery and innovation and which improves the economic, social and cultural prosperity of communities in Hong Kong, China, the region and beyond.

Our reputation as an institution of global distinction is intricately related to the quality and vitality of our research and the international recognition of our research staff. The creation and application of new knowledge that propels societies forward and transforms lives and cultures have become increasingly significant in the 21st Century, in which new challenges and opportunities are emerging at an unprecedented rate. In our research planning, we will preserve and promote an environment conducive to scholarship, and focus on the quality and impact of our research efforts. We will implement the following strategic initiatives:

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  • Recruit and retain outstanding staff

    To maintain a leadership position, we must keep the recruitment, development and retention of world-class staff as one of our highest priorities. We will continue to be proactive and vigilant in our recruitment and retention initiatives for senior professoriate, mid-career and junior staff.

  • Identify and invest in strategically relevant research themes

    We will enhance our record of achievement in disciplinary and interdisciplinary research. We will continue to strengthen the substantial inter-connectedness of our Faculties and programmes to foster synergistic collaboration to achieve greater research impact. We are committed to the development of new research strengths and to development of research in diverse fields, but given the vast and rich range of human knowledge, we must prioritize and foster selected strategic research areas in order that excellence is attainable. In the medium term we will pay greater attention to interdisciplinary research by developing facilities to support research excellence in the areas of arts and humanities, physical sciences and engineering, and medicine and biosciences, involving both present and additional staff members.

  • Strengthen the quality of research higher degree education, particularly PhD education, and nurture the next generation of scholars and researchers

    We will sustain our reputation as a leading centre of research training and doctoral education. In addition to a significant increase of our PhD student number in the next few years, we will improve the vibrancy of our postgraduate population by building on their diverse backgrounds and recruiting the best from inside and outside the region. To provide excellence in postgraduate education, we will develop a supportive and mentoring environment, enhance training in research fundamentals and review our coursework requirements. Building on our experience of research exchange, we will put in place formal arrangements for double and joint research degrees and offer opportunities for further academic exchange.

  • Focus on the importance of research integrity

    We will ensure that our researchers observe and uphold the University’s policy of ethical practice, which includes maintenance of standards and fundamental principles of responsible and honest behaviour in research.

by diversifying our recruitment and funding strategies, we will increase the number of high-quality, research-active professoriate staff in different categories, from the conventional academic track to a predominantly research track
through joint appointments, we will improve interdisciplinary collaboration and break down traditional administrative barriers between research centres/institutes and faculties/departments
by promoting a vibrant and supportive research environment, and by rewarding research performance, we will continue to attract and retain quality professoriate staff
through identifying, reviewing and investing in designated research areas and themes, and engaging stakeholders in the process, we will advance existing areas of research strength and develop important new ones
by building up a critical mass in our multidisciplinary research areas, we will develop institutes of research excellence with core research staff, networking with other researchers both within and outside the University
by building dedicated facilities for advanced research, we will foster interdisciplinary synergy
by strengthening our research culture, we will continue our efforts to improve performance in government and other external funding exercises
by engendering a balance and integration between “basic” and “applied” research, we will enhance performance in both dimensions
by combining both government and non-government resources, we will improve our capacity for innovation
through increased efforts in raising donations, we will increase the number of endowed professorships
through enhanced student recruitment efforts, particularly outside Hong Kong and China, we will increase the number and diversity of quality research postgraduate students, especially at the doctorate level
by highlighting the importance of research integrity, we will inculcate ethical codes of behaviour in research practices

Strategic Research Areas and Themes

To facilitate focused development in areas of strength, the University has identified research themes which will be strategic to the HKU mission. We have also provided seed funding and research postgraduate places to support their development. Each theme provides a platform for fostering and advancing research excellence by drawing together interested researchers from different departments and units, and creating interdisciplinary synergies. The research areas and themes are reviewed periodically to ensure their currency amidst the dynamic developments of the University and the changing world.

The first set of eight Strategic Research Areas (SRAs) and 21 Strategic Research Themes (SRTs) was identified in 2004 following extensive consultation. A review has led to the development and adoption of a modified set of five SRAs and 19 SRTs since 2008, showing a more sharpened research focus for the University and incorporating newly-emerged themes:



Genomics; Drug; Nano-biotechnology;
Computational Sciences;
Information Technology;
Environment Clean Energy; Sustainable Environment;
Molecular Materials;
China China-West Studies; Contemporary China;
China Business & Economics;
Biomedicine Infection & Immunology; Development
& Reproduction; Healthy Ageing;
Cancer; Biomedical Engineering;
Community Public Health; Law, Policy & Development;
Sciences of Learning.
Strategic Research Areas and Themes

Identifying these SRAs and SRTs will enable the University to prioritize and focus its research on proven strong areas and on areas where further interdisciplinary collaboration within the University is most likely to lead to research breakthroughs.

In addition to the 19 themes above, a number of emerging themes have been identified at the Faculty level for further development in the coming years, and these include: Communication Disorders, Diversity Studies, Earth as a Habitable Planet, and Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine.