Professor Gary Wong Ka Leung is currently Head and Professor of the Department of Chemistry, Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU). Widely considered to be a leading figure in the field of lanthanide-based complexes and materials used for fundamental photochemistry, spectroscopy and bio-imaging applications, Professor Wong has a remarkable record in producing innovative and cutting-edge research, ranging from fundamental to frontier topics and from pure to applied themes. After receiving his Doctorate degree from The University of Hong Kong, Professor Wong was awarded the Royal Society Postdoctoral Fellowship to pursue his research at Durham University, UK, under the supervision of Professor David Parker, a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS). He established his independent research group at HKBU in 2011. He was promoted to Full Professor and appointed Head of the Department of Chemistry in 2017.
Professor Wong’s research directs towards developing biological applications that help in the diagnosis of and therapies for cancers. His team has developed a new Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) targeted therapy that specifically kills cancer cells without affecting normal cells. The uptake of this drug can also be traced by the fluorescent signal, and it can be used for cancer cell imaging. Another revolutionary invention of his team is a non-invasive, urine-based prostate cancer detection kit that detects the biomarker affected by cancer cells with an accuracy of up to 90%. It helps to address the limited sensitivity and specificity problems associated with traditional blood tests, which have an accuracy of only 40%. Professor Wong has also invented the "Lanthanide Toolbox", a new medical imaging reagent that can detect Joubert syndrome and other genetic disorders accurately, within a short period and at a low cost. These inventions have won Professor Wong and his team a number of prizes at the Geneva International Exhibition of Inventions. He was also the founder of New Life Medicine Technology, the first HKBU spin-off technology company to establish a research centre in China’s Greater Bay Area.
In 2015, Professor Wong received the Junior Award from the European Rare-Earth and Actinide Society in recognition of his achievement in the research and application of the group of f-block elements (rare earth elements), becoming the first such awardee in Asia’s universities. In 2018, he was the plenary speaker at the 9th National Conference and International Forum on Rare Earth Luminescent Materials, the largest conference on lanthanide in academia, as well as the keynote speaker at the 9th Asian Bioinorganic Chemistry Conference. Recently, a research project titled "The design, fundamental research and biological applications of fluorescent small molecules" led by Professor Wong won a second-class award in the Natural Sciences category at the Ministry of Education’s Higher Education Outstanding Scientific Research Output Awards 2020 (Science and Technology).
Over the years, Professor Wong’s distinguished research has been supported by his success since 2011 in securing more than HK$43 million of external funding from the Hong Kong Research Grant Council, the Health and Medical Research Fund and the Croucher Foundation. He also has a strong publication record, with more than 150 papers published in peer-reviewed journals. These include Nature's sister journals, Advanced Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) (h index = 47, citation > 5,500).
Professor Wong serves on the scientific advisory committees of several renowned academic conferences including the International Symposium for Phosphor Materials and Applications. He is also a member of the international advisory board for ChemPlusChem and an editor of the Journal of Luminescence. Professor Wong was appointed a member of the admission panel of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation’s Technology Business Incubation Programmes.
“The late Dr. Mok Man Hung served HKBU dedicatedly during his lifetime. Alumni from the Department of Chemistry have therefore done their utmost to raise funds for the establishment of this Endowed Professorship in Chemistry, so as to acknowledge Dr. Mok’s contributions over the years and to continue his vision of promoting sustainable research development of the University.”
Interview with Professor Gary Wong Ka Leung