This article was originally published on MIT News on December 22, 2016.
On December 14, MIT’s Campaign for a Better World tour arrived in Hong Kong, where over 200 attendees joined President L. Rafael Reif, local hosts, and guest speakers at the top of the International Commerce Center in Hong Kong’s Kowloon City. The high-energy event celebrated MIT’s recently launched Campaign and the vibrant international community in cities like Hong Kong.
The evening’s master of ceremonies was Victor K. Fung ’66, SM ’66, group chairman of the Fung Group and advisory board chair for the Asia Global Institute at the University of Hong Kong. A longtime leader in the MIT alumni community, Fung introduced Reif and expressed his pleasure in seeing so many gathered to take part in this “exciting moment in MIT’s history.”
As he thanked Fung and the host committee, Reif added that MIT is being “hosted” in Hong Kong in even more enduring ways. The MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node, he said, is the product of partnerships between MIT and “creative makers and entrepreneurs right here in Hong Kong” and offers a perfect example of “the great things that can happen when we strengthen the connections that unite” the global MIT community.
Reif noted that the evening’s speakers—Samuel Hwang, Yasheng Huang, and Li-Huei Tsai—exemplify core values of MIT through their work and have been inspired by the Institute to tackle complex challenges.
For Samuel Hwang ’06, SM ’08, an MIT education provided the critical skills he needed to launch and lead technology companies that are now transforming education for millions. Hwang is the chief technology officer and director of the board of EIC Education, one of China’s leading education companies with offices in Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, and the U.S. Hwang said that MIT trained him to “think outside the box” along with other students who had come to MIT “to solve big problems.” Hwang is proud to be what he calls “a living example” of the power of MIT education to transform lives.
Next at the podium was Yasheng Huang, MIT Sloan associate dean and professor of global economics and management, whose research offers a compelling example of MIT entrepreneurship bringing solutions to global problems. Huang’s team is creating adaptive new methods for locating deadly contaminants in milk and other staples in the global food supply. He highlighted the value of projects such as the MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node, which place research, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs in one synergistic location. This is world-changing, said Huang, because “the faster this innovative research gets tested and is used, the more lives we can save.”
Li-Huei Tsai, director of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and lead investigator for MIT’s Aging Brain Initiative, was the evening’s final speaker. Tsai, a renowned Alzheimer’s researcher, received a swell of applause as she shared news of her team’s recent development of a new method to slow or halt Alzheimer’s disease in lab animals, a breakthrough that may translate to human treatments. She credits her success to MIT’s collaborative and ambitious atmosphere, paired with commercial and tech “know-how” for moving discovery swiftly from labs in Kendall Square to patients and their families. With the support of the MIT community, Tsai concluded, MIT research will continue to improve global health.
Reif capped the evening with a reminder that the generosity of MIT alumni such as the Hong Kong event attendees has helped bring MIT to a moment of extraordinary opportunity. The MIT Campaign for a Better World will build MIT’s momentum in education and health, business, and innovative technology. The challenges are more profound than ever, Reif said, but “MIT is ready!”
On Jan. 13, the MIT Campaign for a Better World tour comes to London, and on Jan. 22 it stops in Tel Aviv. Interested alumni and friends are encouraged to register early. Please visit betterworld.mit.edu/events for details and to learn more about the MIT Campaign for a Better World.