To Inspire. To Be Inspired. – 30 Stories on HKUST Faculty, Alumni and Students

Neuroscientist, researcher, and the Fifth President of HKUST, Prof. Nancy Ip is a notable brain behind the study of brains. She has channeled her passion, curiosity, and devotion into valuable scientific advances — for her field of study, for HKUST, and for the region and beyond. Prof. Nancy Ip completed a PhD in Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School in 1983. This was where, under the tutelage of the esteemed Prof. Richard Zigmond, Prof. Ip was mesmerized by the complexity of the brain and how much of its function remains unknown. Fast forward almost forty years and Prof. Ip is a worldrenowned molecular neuroscientist who has significantly advanced the neuroscience field through pioneering research, making outstanding contributions both locally and globally. In the 2010s, Prof. Ip assembled a research team dedicated to advancing 53 the diagnosis, monitoring, and therapeutics of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in China. It is predicted that by 2050, there will be more than 40 million Alzheimer’s patients in China alone. Yet over 90 percent of research papers are based on data from patients of European descent. Prof. Ip realized that these findings needed to be validated across ethnic groups. Her team has since undertaken genetic studies on Chinese Alzheimer’s patients and protein profiling studies using patient blood samples, leading to the development of ultrasensitive bloodbased protein detection technologies and a non-invasive, highly accurate diagnostic blood test for early diagnosis. “I am so proud of the blood test,” says Prof. Ip. “It is currently the most comprehensive study of blood proteins in AD patients in the world.” Another significant advancement is the development of a brain-wide genome editing technology with demonstrated potential to curb Alzheimer’s pathologies in the brain through a single jab.