Mai Har Sham
University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Associate Vice President (Research)
Convenor, Research Cluster of Developmental and Stem Cell Biology, School of Biomedical Sciences
Professor, School of Biomedical Sciences, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine

The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong


Professor Sham is the Associate Vice President (Research) of the University of Hong Kong. She assists the university senior management team in developing the University’s research in Hong Kong and mainland China, research integrity policy and education, as well as enhancing the quality of research postgraduate education.

Professor Sham obtained her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Cambridge. She received her postdoctoral training in Developmental Genetics in the National Institute for Medical Research in London, U.K., before joining the University of Hong Kong. She served as Assistant Dean (Research) and Head of the Department of Biochemistry in the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine. She is currently Convener of the Research Cluster of Developmental and Stem Cell Biology in the School of Biomedical Sciences in the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, the University of Hong Kong. As a developmental geneticist, Professor Sham leads a research team focuses on the molecular mechanisms of mammalian development and mouse models of human congenital disorders. Her research programmes cover areas of gene regulation in development, molecular control of neural crest differentiation, genetic bases and mutant mouse models of human diseases, and neural stem cells.

Good Practices for Mentoring and Collaboration

The mission of a university is to nurture and maintain a culture of integrity in teaching, learning and research.  For world class universities, a commitment to research excellence and a high standard of professional conduct are expected. There is a demand from all stakeholders on the quantity, quality and impact of research outcome, which are mostly in the form of publications.  The recent global drive on innovation and entrepreneurship has been pushing university researchers to generate other forms of translational research outcome that are closer to product development, posing new challenges on responsible conduct of research.

Although in some disciplines, research remains a personal academic pursuit. However, in most disciplines, particularly in the science, engineering, biomedicine, and social sciences arena, research is often carried out as a team effort. It is not uncommon that researchers with different cultural background get together to perform research of greater scale and impact.  Very often, the essential experiments and primary data are generated and collected by research postgraduate students or junior researchers who are inexperienced in the methodologies or data analysis and interpretation.  Given the shared responsibilities for the research outcome, there is a need to establish a common professional standard in managing the research processes among the research team members.  For a successful global university, relevant infrastructure and training support for mentoring junior researchers, and code of practices for researchers of all levels need to be in place, in order to facilitate responsible collaborative research with a professional academic standard.

The training of researchers is usually following an apprenticeship model of mentoring. Systematic training on responsible conduct of research, data management and storage remain heterogeneous in many institutions.  Based on a research student survey conducted in our university, I shall highlight the perception of postgraduate students on responsible conduct of research, questionable research practices, data management and ownership, authorship and publication process, as well as supervision and mentorship. I shall also discuss issues on establishing an agreement on authorship, resource distribution and research grant acknowledgement, material and data ownership and sharing, ethical approval and intellectual property issues in research collaborations.