HONG KONG SAR – Media OutReach – 17 May 2023 – The University of Hong Kong (HKU) is pleased to announce that two of the University’s esteemed researchers, Professor Vivian Yam and Professor Xuechen Li, have been recognised for their exceptional contributions to the field of chemistry.

HKU Researchers Receive Prestigious Awards in the Field of Chemistry
Professor Xuechen Li (left) and Professor Vivian Yam (right) have been recognised for their exceptional contributions to the field of chemistry.

Professor Vivian Yam, who holds the Philip Wong Wilson Wong Professorship in Chemistry and Energy at The University of Hong Kong (HKU), has been named the recipient of the 2023-24 Bailar Medal by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Professor Yam received the award for her outstanding contributions to the rational design and synthesis of new luminescent metal complexes, as well as her achievements in fundamental research in inorganic and coordination chemistry. She is the first Asian and Chinese scientist to receive the Bailar Medal, which recognises excellence in the field of inorganic chemistry.

“I am humbled and honoured to be the first Asian inorganic chemist to be awarded the Bailar Medal that has a long history of over 50 years, and to be following the footsteps of giants in the field of inorganic and coordination chemistry. I wish to thank the University of Hong Kong for the support and encouragement throughout the years,” said Professor Yam.

Established in 1972, the Bailar Medal, named in honour of Professor John Christian Bailar, Jr., known as the father of American coordination chemistry and former faculty member at the University of Illinois, is a highly prestigious award that recognises outstanding contributions to inorganic chemistry research. For over half a century, this prestigious award has been presented to chemists who have made outstanding contributions to the fields of inorganic and coordination chemistry globally. In the past, all 48 recipients of the Bailar Medal have been mainly from Europe and the United States, including four Nobel laureates in Chemistry.

Professor Xuechen Li of the Department of Chemistry has been honoured with the Contribution Award in Carbohydrate Chemistry by the Chinese Chemical Society (CCS). The prestigious award recognises his pioneering contribution in precision chemical synthesis, chemical biology, and the development of therapeutic glycoconjugates of glycoproteins and bacterial complex carbohydrates. Professor Li pioneered the development of Serine/Threonine ligation, which has been widely used for generating homogeneous glycopeptides and glycoproteins. They have also broken the bottleneck of the synthesis and glycosylation of bacterial pseudaminic acid, which was previously unsolved for 20 years.

The Contribution Award in Carbohydrate Chemistry is a prestigious honour that rewards outstanding achievements in the field and promotes its development. It aims to recognise scholars who have made systematic and innovative research contributions in carbohydrate chemistry and have made outstanding contributions to the development of the discipline. The award is presented every two years, with one to two recipients each time, and candidates are recommended and nominated by professional committee members.

Professor Li expresses his deep appreciation to the CCS for this prestigious award. ‘I am both humbled and honored to receive the Contribution Award,’ says Professor Li. ‘The field of carbohydrate chemistry is incredibly fascinating, with numerous challenges and opportunities. I am grateful for the chance to contribute to its advancement and will continue to work tirelessly to make significant breakthroughs in this area.’

More information about Professor Vivian Yam’s Lab:

More information about the research group of Professor Xuechen Li:

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