The lines between scientific disciplines are increasingly being blurred. With Integrative Biology, HKU is working at the frontier of interdisciplinary research to discover new insights into human health, and diseases and their treatment.
The Integrative Biology Emerging SRT incorporates traditional and new fields in science to address fundamental biological and biomedical questions. Chemistry, physics and biology are married with genomics, proteomics, genetics and synthetic biology – as well as engineering – to investigate two new and evolving fields: structural and chemical biology, and synthetic biology.
Structural and chemical biology draws on the successes of genome sequencing to take our understanding of one-dimensional DNA sequencing to the next step. It aims to unravel molecular functions and the progression of disease, and to use these findings to develop drugs that target diseases at the molecular level.
Imaging is important to this field and HKU researchers are developing powerful methods for synthesising agents that can be used to track the location, concentration and function of proteins in cells and tissues. They are also applying other imaging techniques to research in cancer, immune disorders and microbial infections.
Synthetic biology is about the design and construction of new biological parts and new biologically based systems or devices that do not exist in the natural world. This has the potential to provide solutions in such areas as medicine, energy and the environment.
HKU scientists are focusing on genome design and construction. They are currently working to redesign and synthesise the first eukaryotic genome (a yeast genome) to help understand genome design principles, and are re-engineering the Salmonella genome for a bacterial treatment for cancer.