SCMP ; January 4, 2003 Hong Kong is not renowned for its scientific excellence, yet there are doctors and scientists working here who are among the best in their fields in the world. The breakthrough in stem cell research announced last week at the University of Hong Kong was proof of that. The scientists used stem cells extracted from the bone marrow of nine patients suffering from heart disease to stimulate blood supply. Three months after the experiments were performed, the health of seven of the patients had improved. A similar study was carried out at the University of Rostock in Germany and similar hopeful results were recorded. The findings were published in the British medical journal the Lancet, a leading international forum for presentation of research. Using stem cells from bone marrow is an ingenious way of sidestepping the ethical issues associated with such work. The announcement that such cutting-edge work is being carried out by a Hong Kong team was surprising, but it should not have been. We have a solid international reputation for work in other scientific fields, such as bio-technology. Our doctors working in specialised areas such as organ disease and eye disorders are among the best in the world. Other countries in the region - Singapore, Japan and Australia - allocate far more funding towards medical and scientific research than Hong Kong. Little wonder their scientists and research facilities are better known. Singapore's government has been putting billions of dollars into medical institutions to build a global reputation for expertise in stem cell and cloning work. Last year, it attracted Britain's foremost cloning researchers, who had created Dolly the sheep. Such quantities of funding are sadly lacking in the SAR, yet we are still willing to do the research and capable of coming up with results. Tse Hung-fat's team of stem cell researchers at the University of Hong Kong are proof enough. The government and private enterprise would do well to use their influence and financial resources to help build on our expertise. * For more stories, read the news section of the SCMP. Glossary renowned (adj) famous and eminent Example: Local drama collective, Theatre Du Pif which is renowned for its cross-cultural, bilingual productions, was founded in Edinburgh before relocating to Hong Kong in 1995. (SCMP; January 3, 2003) extract (v) to pull out, often with force, from something ingenious (adj) very clever and original sidestep (v) to avoid or try to avoid a difficult question or problem. to skirt is a synonym. Example: Even though the HKUST council chairman John Chan Cho-chak sidestepped the question of whether the council had shelved the proposal, the decision has effectively halted progress of the merger with the Chinese University of Hong Kong. (SCMP ; December 9, 2002) cutting-edge (adj) of great importance; enjoying the position of greatest advancement foremost (adj) leading; in front of all others Example: Foremost on the mind of Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo must be the corruption allegations hanging over her businessman husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo. (SCMP; January 2, 2003) Discussion points ? Do you agree with the editorial that the government should put more resources into scientific research? Give reasons. ? In your opinion, what should the government's priorities be when spending public money? ? Besides resources, what else helps to cultivate good scientists? Do you think Hong Kong is able to provide the right sort of research environment?