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Old BuildingProfessor C.Y. Wang, a graduate of the Hong Kong College of Medicine who obtained his M.D. from Edinburgh, was the first Professor of Pathology and was appointed in 1920. At the time the predominant causes of mortality were tropical diseases, mainly infections and parasites. Professor Wang's research concentrated on tuberculosis and he was to die of the disease in 1930. He was succeeded by Professor L.J. Davies until 1939 when Professor R.C. Robertson who had previously headed the Lester Institute of Research in Shanghai was appointed. Unfortunately he was held under house arrest following the Japanese invasion and later died in 1942.

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Professor Hou Pao-Chang

After the war Professor Hou Pao-Chang held the Chair from 1948 to 1960. He had previously been Professor at Cheloo University and West China University and was well-respected within and outside China. His main research area was hepatobiliary disease and the relationship between the liver fluke, Clonorchis sinensis and bile duct carcinoma. During his tenure he oversaw the completion of a new Pathology Building in the grounds of the Queen Mary Hospital which was completed in 1958. This new building facilitated the integration of pathology teaching with research and with a clinical pathology service for Queen Mary Hospital.

Professor Hou was succeeded first by Professor R. Kirk and then by Professor James Gibson in 1963. One of Professor Gibson's first achievements was the formation of a separate Department of Microbiology established in 1968. The Department still consisted of the disciplines of histopathology, cytology, haematology, clinical biochemistry and later immunology. Medical jurisprudence was also taught by part-time staff. In 1970 Professor Gibson helped negotiate an agreement between the University and the Hong Kong government resulting in a grant to run what became known as the 'Hospital Pathology Service'(HPS). This enabled the Department to provide a high quality pathology service to a modern teaching hospital of international standing. It also enabled the University to use its expertise to enhance the quality and scope of the clinical laboratory service. The HPS has in recent years been taken over by the Hospital Authority.

Professor James Gibson

Professor Gibson's other achievements included the setting up of a central electron microscope unit in the University, a new Clinical Pathology Building adjacent to the ‘old' University Pathology Building in 1972, the setting up of a medical laboratory technician training programme on a territory-wide basis, the development of a cytology service, the setting up of an Immunology Section in 1975, and a tissue typing service in 1981, which now serves the whole of Hong Kong. He also oversaw the evolution of the Clinical Biochemistry Unit into a separate entity in 1982. While all this was going on he supervised the first students to obtain postgraduate research degrees in pathology at the University. The Department was also the organisational centre for a multicentre collaborative study of the classification of liver tumours sponsored by the WHO. This resulted in the publication of a WHO 'blue book' on the histological typing of tumours of the liver, biliary tract and pancreas.*

Professor Faith Ho

Professor Faith Ho was head of the Department from 1985 and chief of services from 1994 until her early retirement in 1996. She was a visionary in promoting excellence in research, clinical service and teaching. Ho initiated and developed research employing molecular biology technique and recognized the vital importance of a multidisciplinary approach to the diagnosis and management of diseases. She contributed new knowledge in the pathogenesis of lymphomas particularly in nasal / NK lymphomas. She strengthened the five divisions of pathology – anatomical pathology, haematology, clinical biochemistry, immunology and tissue typing – by establishing new clinical posts in all divisions and academic posts in molecular biology, haematology, forensic pathology and clinical biochemistry. Ho also promoted the recruitment of postgraduate students to the department and ensured a high standard of infrastructural support to enhance research and teaching.

*The above was adapted from "Constancy of Purpose", by Dafydd Emrys Evans, Hong Kong University Press, 1987.