UM to establish two state key labs


November 2010 marks an important milestone for the 30-year-old University of Macau (UM) in its history of research development. With the support of the Macao SAR government and the Science and Technology Development Fund of Macao SAR, the university’s applications to establish two state key laboratories were finally approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology. The two laboratories, namely The State Key Laboratory of Analog and Mixed-Signal VLSI) (AMS-VLSI SK Lab) and The State Key Laboratory for Quality Research in Chinese Medicine (QRCM SK Lab), will be the first state key laboratories in Macao.

The “state key laboratory programme” was launched by the Chinese government in 1984. It is a key part of the state science and technology innovation system. The programme covers numerous fields and has a high entry bar. Becoming a state key laboratory guarantees strong financial support from the central government, which will in turn lead to a substantial improvement in research capabilities.

UM “Rocketing” to the World’s Forefront in Silicon Chip

Compared with some universities that date back a century, UM is like a young adult, ambitious and daring to innovate, determined not to let limited resources get in the way of its pursuit to become a world-class university. The approval for establishing the two state key laboratories came after more than a decade of rigorous evaluation by the Ministry of Science and Technology. It is the result of the joint efforts of all team members involved and the university’s commitment to developing disciplines with a competitive edge.

More than a decade ago, UM’s vice rector (research) Prof. Rui Martins led a group of his fellow colleagues and students into uncharted territory—research in microelectronics. The birth of the UMChip marks a starting point in UM’s microelectronics research. Now the team led by Prof. Martins has successfully developed the fifth-generation UMChip whose size is only 65 nanometers. With numerous state-of-the-art research achievements, UM now enjoys a good international reputation in this field. At present there is only one state key laboratory in China that specializes in microelectronics—the ASIC & System State Key Lab at Fudan University. The AMS-VLSI SK Lab will be the only state key laboratory in microelectronics in Macao.

The cooperation between UM and the ASIC & System State Key Lab at Fudan University in establishing The AMS-VLSI SK Lab will enable the two parties to complement each other’s strengths. UM’s objective is to develop the AMS-VLSI SK Lab into the most important silicon chip research centre in China. The lab will carry out research in analogue and mixed-signal integrated circuits by utilizing the advanced nano-chip technology, and will at the same time train master’s students, doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers. The AMS-VLSI SK Lab is expected to contribute to a substantial improvement of Macao’s R&D capability by serving as a high-quality platform for the development of chip technology, human resources, software design and testing equipment.

Combining Chinese Medical Sciences with Cutting-edge Modern Technologies

When Prof. Wang Yitao, director of the Institute of Chinese Medical Sciences, learned the news that the application for the state key laboratory in Chinese medicine had been approved, he was overwhelmed with a multitude of emotions. “We will fully tap into Macao’s uniquely advantageous position as a place where eastern and western cultures and technologies meet, and we will combine Chinese medical sciences with cutting-edge modern technologies. We will strive to achieve breakthroughs to address the key problems in the process of modernization and internationalization of Chinese medicines,” noted Prof. Wang.

Prof. Wang disclosed that the evaluation of the quality of Chinese medicines will be the QRCM SK Lab’s main area of research, and the innovation and internationalization of Chinese medicine will be its main objective. Prof. Wang added that the subjects of study will include Chinese medicines with various functions, such as medicines that promote blood circulation and remove blood stasis; medicines that reduce internal body heat and remove toxic substances; and medicines that improve the body’s immunization system, and the focus will be placed on age-related diseases and degenerative diseases. The research will cover numerous fields such as chemistry, analysis, medicines, pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, safety, clinic study, and information.

The QRCM SK Lab will be China’s first state key laboratory in the field of Chinese medicine. It will be jointly established by UM and the Macau University of Science and Technology. Obtaining the support of the central government is a strategic move on the part of UM in its attempt to innovate research, and the success in obtaining such support is the result of UM staff’s unremitting effort and commitment to realizing their full potential. The academics and students of ICMS will work together to develop the laboratory into a world-class platform for Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao to cooperate as well as an international platform for scientific and technological cooperation in Chinese medicine, thereby contributing to the moderate economic diversification of Macao, furthering innovation in medical R&D and the development of the biomedical industry in the Pearl River Delta region, serving as a bridge of scientific and technological cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries in the field of traditional medicine, and accelerating the modernization and internationalization of Chinese medicines.

With the great support of the central government and the Macao SAR government, the new UM campus on Hengqin Island has already begun construction. This will present unprecedented opportunities for the development of microelectronics and Chinese medicine—two outstanding areas at UM. There will be three open research bases on the new campus: one for Information and Electronics (that will include the Microelectronics Lab), one for Chinese Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and one for Energy and Environment. The increase of such facilities, combined with UM members’ unremitting pursuit of improvement in research, will surely bring more opportunities for UM and Macao.