The Hong Kong RNA Club—A new hub for RNA aficionados

Attending a series of events held by Hong Kong RNA Club (http://www.kitkwok.com/hk-rna-club.html) is a tremendously beneficial and educational experience. The Club was founded in Hong Kong, the very heart of the Asia-Pacific area, and invites both renowned luminaries and young RNA researchers from the region and overseas. It was incredibly enjoyable and fascinating to have the excellent opportunity to learn of the most recent advancements achieved by the speakers, who study RNAs in a marvelously diverse spectrum of contexts, from basic science to the clinic and the industry. The Club offers an extraordinary platform for communication and knowledge update.

Among all the events, the highlight, as least to me who has a clinical background, has been the 1st Hong Kong RNA Club Symposium in 2017. Apart from enjoying delicious refreshments, superb services and the spectacular view of the entire Kowloon from the venue, I was more than inspired by the knowledge, atmosphere and spirits that the Symposium conveyed. The Symposium was opened by Professor Harvey Lodish from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is one of the most distinguished scholars in the field of molecular and cell biology. Professor Lodish used the development of erythrocytes as well as white and brown adipocytes as a model to introduce his recent work showing that lineage-specific lncRNAs are expressed only in a single type of cell or developmental pathway and are essential for proper differentiation in the regulatory circuitry. Professor Xin-yuan Guan from the University of Hong Kong delivered a highly informative speech on how the adenosine-to-inosine RNA editing of AZIN1 transcripts might be a potential driver in human carcinogenesis, especially in hepatocellular carcinoma, which is of higher prevalence and pose a considerable threat to the public health in Asian countries.

What significantly distinguished the Symposium from other events is the extent of communication and interaction between the speakers and the attendees. Most other events that I had attended, usually due to time constraints, did not allow much time for discussion. Much to my delight, the Symposium was well organized and managed to give everyone the unparalleled access to interesting and engaging conversations. Coffee breaks and luncheon sessions acted effectively as mini intimate functions in the company of featured cuisines and delicacies. Professor Lodish shared his firsthand experience of mentoring more than 200 students, fellows and visitors, two of which became Nobel Prize laureates. The key to becoming a successful mentor, according to Professor Lodish, lies in creating a family-friendly environment for both genders, which later allows them to excel both inside and outside the academia. Dr. Minh Le, a former student of Professor Lodish and now a regionally well-recognized female scientist, provided her inspiring insight into how she managed to balance research, teaching, personal life and family. What I valued the most about the Symposium is that the participants did not only learn about scientific achievements by colleagues, but they also got to know their characters, stories and philosophies. This touch of humanity made a huge difference to the Symposium.

In summary, it has been a great pleasure to be part of the Hong Kong RNA Club, and I enjoy immensely the events the RNA Salon has offered so far. Without doubt, I would recommend anyone working or interested in the RNA field to join the Club along with all the events. It offers much more than knowledge exchange and the opportunity to socialize with colleagues. The Hong Kong RNA Club aims to support young researchers and promote equality in science as well. Last but not the least, please allow me to say thank you to all the organizers and colleagues, and I look forward to what’s next to come in the Club.

Xin ZHANG, PhD student, City University of Hong Kong

For more information on the Hong Kong RNA Club, feel free to contact Dr. Chun Kit Kwok (ckkwok42@nullcityu.edu.hk) or Dr. Minh Le (mle.bms@nullcityu.edu.hk). Please follow @HKRNAClub for future events and use #hkrnaclub when sharing!