As Shenzhen continues to rise as a scientific and technological powerhouse at the heart of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), in 2019, the city, with a five-year budget of 13 billion RMB (US$2 billion), partnered with Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School to launch Shenzhen Bay Laboratory (SZBL).
The ambition was to create advanced research platforms, gather world-class talents, and drive cutting-edge discoveries in biomedicine, enabling clinical trials to boost the GBA’s biomedical industry.
Leveraging the rich resources and research strengths of GBA and Peking University, SZBL is built on an open and inclusive institutional model. Its subsidiary, the Institute of Cancer Research, seeks to understand cancer-related molecular mutations and tumour microenvironment with innovative models, methodologies and the application of cancer big data. A computational biology research group, for example, applies bioinformatics techniques in the analysis of sequencing data, and has developed new technologies for liquid biopsy and non-invasive prenatal cancer testing.
With a long-term commitment to improving health, SZBL works on other major diseases, ranging from metabolic syndromes and cardiovascular diseases, to neurodegenerative disorders. Its work will be led by research innovations in bioinformatics, biomedicine, and bioengineering, said Qimin Zhan, SZBL director.
Zhan is responsible for the management of SZBL under the leadership of the governing board, SZBL’s highest decision-making body. A strategic advisory committee, headed by Xiaoliang Sunney Xie, will ensure overall planning aligned with the development roadmap. An academic committee comprised of top international experts, chaired by Mingjie Zhang, will provide consulting and evaluation of academic processes. SZBL will complete its research infrastructure construction by 2021 and build a 1,000-strong team by 2023.
“With scientists taking up crucial managerial roles, we are creating a new model to drive ground-breaking discoveries and paving the way for establishing a state laboratory for life sciences and biomedical studies in the GBA,” said Zhan.