The World Cultural Council (WCC) and City University of Hong Kong (CityU) are pleased to announce that the 35th WCC Award Ceremony will take place on Thursday 8th November 2018. At the event, the “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science and the “José Vasconcelos” World Award of Education will be conferred on eminent pioneers in their respective fields in honour of their tireless efforts to advance human culture and well-being.

Welcome Message

Professor Sir Colin BLAKEMORE
President, World Cultural Council

The World Cultural Council (WCC) was founded in 1981 on the initiative of 124 distinguished academics and personalities from five continents who joined forces to promote the positive influence of science and culture. They were the first members of the WCC’s Interdisciplinary Jury, which is currently composed of 250 members from 51 countries.

Since the awards were inaugurated in 1984, the “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science, the “José Vasconcelos” World Award of Education and the “Leonardo da Vinci” World Award of Arts have been presented at annual ceremonies hosted by top universities and academic institutions worldwide. The WCC is deeply grateful to City University of Hong Kong for hosting the first awards ceremony in China.

Over the years, our distinguished jury members have identified an impressive list of prizewinners, selected not only for their scientific, educational or artistic merits, but also for their contributions to the well-being of humanity and their qualities as role models who can inspire future generations.

Each annual awards event, which gathers top-level scientists, educators and researchers from around the world to celebrate the laureates’ groundbreaking work, provides an opportunity for interaction, particularly through the Winners’ Special Lectures for students, faculty and the public. The ceremony includes the presentation of Special Recognitions to a select group of young researchers nominated by the host institution, acknowledging their remarkable work at an early age.

The WCC will remain committed to recognising and rewarding excellence by granting awards to those individuals whose professional achievements are widely valued, and who contribute to advancing culture and mutual understanding and to developing the next generation of leaders.

Professor Way KUO
President, City University of Hong Kong

I am honoured to welcome you to City University of Hong Kong (CityU) for the 2018 World Cultural Council Award Ceremony. We are delighted to join the list of eminent institutions that have hosted the event in the past.

The World Cultural Council Awards are hugely influential. We resoundingly acknowledge the tireless efforts of the new awardees and their predecessors in advancing human culture and well-being.

This year the “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science and the “José Vasconcelos” World Award of Education will be presented. For us at CityU, these awards are especially meaningful because science and education are such core areas of interest for us. The development of new technology and knowledge creation is what spurs us on in terms of the scientific explorations and innovations in undergraduate curriculum design taking place on our campus today.

CityU is making a difference globally by pursuing excellence, promoting innovation and nurturing creativity that, like the “Albert Einstein” and “José Vasconcelos” awards, will bring about genuine benefits for humanity.

I am also delighted that some of the most exciting work at CityU has been initiated by young faculty. It is gratifying that they will share in the spotlight, too, during this event.

While you are in Hong Kong, I hope you will hear more about our teaching and research environment, just as we will learn a tremendous amount by hosting this inspirational event, interacting with and learning from the dynamic thinkers in attendance.

It is my deepest wish that CityU can contribute to the continued success of the WCC.

About the WCC

For more than three decades the World Cultural Council has been recognizing individuals that have made exceptional achievements in science, education and the arts, with the final objective of promoting tolerance, peace and fraternity, seeking to encourage the use of science, art and education to further the well-being of humanity.

The prizes are given to those whose work has had a significantly positive impact on the cultural legacy of mankind. The high level of the jury, comprised of world-renowned scholars and eminent individuals in the above fields, enhances the prestige of the awards. The WCC annually organizes an Award Ceremony at which these recognitions are conferred. Each ceremony is held in a different country with a renowned university or academic institute acting as host.

This year the WCC is delighted to enhance relations with City University of Hong Kong, one of the region’s most dynamic universities. According to the latest QS rankings, CityU is ranked 55th in the world and 5th among the world's top 50 universities under 50 years of age, and is ranked 8th in Asia.

This innovative university is thus an ideal environment for recognizing the outstanding achievements of the WCC’s laureates and celebrating the inspiration that they bring as role models for future generations.

About CityU

With an emphasis on professional education and research, CityU produces graduates with the ability to anticipate and precipitate change in a rapidly-evolving, globalised world.

In recent years, CityU has performed strongly in university rankings and is currently among the top 10 in Asia and the top 55 in the world. It is a fast-growing institution with 20,000 students, including 6,500 postgraduate students, and about 1,000 academic staff in science and engineering, business, creative media, law, the humanities and social sciences, energy and environment, and veterinary medicine and life sciences.

The unique Discovery-enriched Curriculum and its emphasis on innovation and creativity underlies all aspects of the University’s professional education and problem-driven research. Supported by novel learning spaces and facilities in new buildings, the curriculum embodies CityU’s Strategic Plan for a new era of growth.

CityU’s proximity to, and close ties with, mainland China, as well as its international partnerships and outlook, make the University ideally positioned to provide a dynamic learning and research environment for students and faculty from all over the world.

The 2018 Awards


Professor Jean-Pierre Changeux, Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience at the Institut Pasteur and Collège de France has been selected as the winner of the 2018 Albert Einstein World Award of Science.

Professor Changeux has been recognised for his exceptional scientific achievements and leadership in the field of neuroscience, and especially for his pioneering contributions to the science and understanding of neuroreceptors over the past 50 years. One of his groundbreaking discoveries revealed that the acetylcholine receptor as a model membrane receptor was one of the most central regulatory mechanisms in biology, leading to original insights concerning the chemistry of the brain and ultimately the brain-mind relationship.

The WCC jury acknowledged the significant impact that Professor Changeux’s research has had on healthcare and our understanding of human neural processes. His work on the mechanism of neural networks has narrowed the gap between molecular biology and cognitive sciences.

Winner's Achievements

At the beginning of his career in the 1960s, working with Jacques Monod, François Jacob and Jeffries Wyman, Jean-Pierre Changeux made a breakthrough that led to the development of the theory of allosteric transitions in proteins. This now well-established concept postulated that regulatory ligands control the activity of the active sites of enzymes when they bind to topologically distinct sites.

Soon after, he proposed a similar concept to explain the behaviour of synaptic receptors for neurotransmitters. During the decades that followed, he proved this hypothesis, too. He characterised and purified the acetylcholine receptor from the electric organ of a fish, the first receptor for a neurotransmitter and ligand-gated ion channel to be identified.

Further studies have shown that human diseases are associated with mutations that change the conformational equilibrium of allosteric proteins, including growth factor receptors. Furthermore, many of the drugs developed to modulate receptors coupled to G proteins are in fact allosteric modulators. Currently, many pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are developing allosteric modulators of receptors or other key proteins in human cells for use as efficient drugs in neurological disorders as well as other diseases including cancer.

Moving from the molecules and the isolated neurons or muscle cells to the development of neuronal networks, Professor Changeux and his colleagues made a far-reaching contribution by first proposing in mathematical terms and then testing the theory that the long-term epigenesis of neuronal networks occurs by the selective stabilisation and elimination of developing synapses.

At the same time, he and his colleagues proposed theoretical models for defined cognitive tasks that bridge the gap between molecular biology and cognitive sciences and where allosteric receptors play a key role in the regulation of synaptic efficacy. Furthermore, they put forward an original hypothesis describing a neuronal mechanism for conscious access, implying a “global neuronal workspace” composed of a brain-scale horizontal network of reciprocally connected long axon pyramidal neurons.

Professor Changeux has been concerned about the ethical consequences of recent progress in neuroscience for medicine and for society in general, and has made it widely known in his popular work L’homme neuronal, (Neuronal Man: The Biology of The Mind) in 1983. In his book La Nature et La Règle, Ce Qui Nous Fait Penser (What makes us think?) co-authored with Paul Ricoeur in 1998, a neuroscientist and a philosopher argue about ethics, human nature and the brain. This major work was followed by books on the way we perceive paintings and music or how we think and speak, all of which were further enhanced by Professor Changeux’s vast knowledge of art, music, history and philosophy.

During his career, he has accumulated a vast collection of works of art, mostly paintings, lithographs and prints from the seventeenth century. Part of his collection was donated to the Bossuet Art Museum in Meaux.

Professor Changeux has received many major scientific acknowledgements and prizes, among them the Wolf Prize in Medicine (1983), Grand Prix de la Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale (1997), the Linus Pauling medal (1999) and the Balzan prize (2001). He was invited to become a member of various academies of science and letters, among them Academia Europaea, Accademia dei Lincei, Leopoldina and the French Académie des Sciences. He is doctor honoris causa of almost twenty universities worldwide.


The 2018 José Vasconcelos World Award of Education will be granted to Professor Malik Mâaza of the University of South Africa (UNISA) and at iThemba LABS-National Research Foundation of South Africa, and holder of the UNESCO-UNISA Africa Chair in Nanosciences and Nanotechnology, UNESCO.

The award acknowledges Professor Mâaza’s work in promoting education for societal development and sustainability, and recognises his international and humanistic approach to science education as well as his commitment to training and mentoring young scientists on the African continent. To this end, Professor Mâaza has worked tirelessly to raise funds worldwide in support of researchers from less affluent countries. He has helped scientists from war zones in Africa and the Middle East pursue their research and has organised periodic exchanges between renowned scientists of Israeli and Arabic origin, seeking to build bridges through science.

The WCC jury was additionally impressed by Professor Mâaza’s promotion of female scientists in conservative communities.

Winner's Achievements

Professor Malik Mâaza is an African physicist and an accomplished researcher and educator, born in Algeria in 1963 and working in South Africa. His clear vision of how science can be used as a tool to empower individuals to address some of humanity’s most pressing challenges has been demonstrated through his commitment to training and mentoring young scientists.

He is greatly respected for his work as a pioneer of nanoscience and nanotechnology on the African continent and, most importantly, for his accomplishments as an outstanding educator and dedicated mentor. He has significantly contributed to the education of numerous PhD students and postdoctoral researchers.

He has also played a crucial part in keeping South Africa at the leading edge of international research. In this sense, he plays a key strategic planning role in developing South African research programmes and research grant proposals. His work has earned him international recognition from UNESCO, which appointed him to the first South-South Chair in Nanosciences & Nanotechnology: the UNESCO UNISA Africa Chair in Nanosciences and Nanotechnology, also known as U2ACN2.

Recognised by the global scientific community for the value of his published work through frequent invitations to speak at international events, he acts as an ambassador and voice for the African continent in the multidisciplinary field of nanotechnology.

Professor Mâaza’s contributions in the area of education are not confined to the classroom. He has created platforms for the introduction of emerging areas of education like materials science, space sciences and laser sciences. The many new facilities that he has set up underpin a range of scientific programmes, while he has established his own team and exploited his own expertise and ideas to build stronger relations with both academia and industry at national and international level.

His dedication to the cause of women in science is seen through his role as a member of the international as well as the Sub-Saharan juries of the L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science. He is a major player in promoting the role of women in science, especially those living in low and medium income countries. He is also a peace activist, using science as a powerful path for fostering human relations between young researchers.

His work as UNESCO Chair has had a huge impact on building capacities among the future generation of African scientists.

The 35th Annual WCC Award Winners Announcement - Joint Press Conference on 4 June 2018

The annual “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science was created as a recognition for scientists whose scientific or technological achievements have brought progress and benefit to mankind. The laureate is selected by the Council’s Interdisciplinary Committee, which is composed of highly acknowledged scientists from across the globe.

The “José Vasconcelos” World Award of Education is granted to a renowned educator, an authority in the field of teaching, or someone who has brought about visionary development in education policy. Through his/her work, the individual or team should have had a significantly positive influence on the quality and reach of teaching and learning in our society. The prize is awarded every second year.

The World Award laureates will receive:

a Diploma

a Commemorative Medal

an Award Cheque

Special Recognitions

WCC will grant special acknowledgements to young researchers and scholars from Hong Kong who have performed outstandingly in the fields of science, education or arts.

Dr Ray Cheung Chak-chung, Associate Professor, Department of Electronic Engineering,
City University of Hong Kong

Dr Cheung advocates campus-wide community-based learning at CityU, while promoting city-wide coding education. His CityU Apps Lab initiative has become one of the most influential student learning communities in Hong Kong. This interdisciplinary co-working space is entirely flexible and open to all, providing coding education, mobile app development, underwater robotics hardware designs, solar car designs and technical support for start-ups and the public. The Apps Lab equips students with skills and confidence for life, beyond just their academic focus.

Dr Johnny Ho Chung-yin, Associate Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering,
City University of Hong Kong

Dr Ho has established an internationally recognized and multidisciplinary research programme focusing on the design and fabrication of novel device structures through nanomaterial innovations. His team develops schemes to manipulate, process and engineer various nanomaterials for new functionalities and properties for use in electronics, optoelectronics and sensors, along with energy-harvesting. Some of these materials or processes have already been transitioned to industry for further commercialization. Dr Ho has published over 125 articles in high-impact factor journals and he was recently elected as a founding member of The Young Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong.

Dr Lam Miu-ling, Associate Professor, School of Creative Media,
City University of Hong Kong

Dr Lam is a practising media artist as well as an expert in robotics and emerging media technologies. She is recognized for her unique initiatives and exceptional contributions to pedagogy, curriculum design, research- and innovation-infused teaching and community outreach projects. She plays a pioneering role in fusing art and science together through her innovative and practice-focused courses, which successfully eliminate learning barriers and make scientific concepts accessible to the non-scientific mind. Dr Lam has also implemented learning platforms and workshops at university-level to facilitate learning outside the classroom, such as the Wearable Innovation Lab and TEDY (Technologies for the Elderly and Disabled), which furthermore cultivate social responsibility.

Dr Patrick Lee Kwan-hon, Associate Professor and Associate Dean, School of Energy and Environment,
City University of Hong Kong

Dr Lee’s research revolves around microbiology, striving to understand the functions of microbes in systems related to energy, environment and human health. Current projects include research on C1 metabolism for renewable energy and chemicals, indoor-built environment microbiology, the human microbiome, and microbial processes in the environment. Dr Lee has published over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles. He is passionate about teaching and has established a training programme enabling students to develop key professional skills to improve their employability.

Dr Eddie Ma Chi-him, Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences,
City University of Hong Kong

Dr Ma’s research combines mouse genetics, deep brain stimulation and animal behaviour approaches to develop strategies accelerating functional recovery. These include studies on neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and peripheral neuropathy. The scientific quality of his work is reflected in receiving significant external funding (over HKD 10 million), the CityU President Award and Croucher Foundation Fellowship. He has published research work in top-tier journals, and been invited speaker at international conferences. He serves as director to establish the first University-based animal research facility. He also has a keen interest in education and served as programme leader to develop an undergraduate degree programme for biological sciences students.

Dr Shi Peng, Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering,
City University of Hong Kong

Dr Shi works at the convergence of neuroscience and nano/microtechnologies. Using an interdisciplinary approach involving nano/micro-fabrication, microfluidics, ultra-fast optics, high-resolution microscopy and imaging processing, he focuses on solving problems in fundamental and translational neurosciences, especially the development of high-throughput neurotechnology and screening platforms for the discovery of novel chemicals or gene targets. At molecular and cellular level, he and his team leverage advances in technology to create sophisticated windows of observation that can ultimately address complex neuroscience problems.

Professor Wang Zuankai, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering,
City University of Hong Kong

Professor Wang’s research interests lie in the interfaces between engineering, materials, and physics. He has made seminal contributions to the fundamental understanding of the structure-function properties of biological systems and the creation of bio-inspired, topological structures and disruptive technologies to fundamentally change the fluid-thermal-surface interfacial and transport processes, providing a new paradigm for materials discovery and implementation in real world. His work has been recognized by the Guinness World Records, and highlighted in Nature, Nature Physics, New York Times and many other media coverages.

Dr Zhang Xiaoling, Associate Professor, Department of Public Policy,
City University of Hong Kong

Dr Zhang is energetically building a strong reputation in the important field of regenerative sustainability, focusing on social and environmental sustainability. Representative publications include “Turning green into gold”, “Toward smart governance and social sustainability” and the “Centipede Game model”. Dr Zhang has been recognized as an expert in sustainability science for built environments as well as sustainable urbanization in China. She is very active in the global conference circuit and has developed an impressive network of international collaborators.

Dr Zheng Bo, Assistant Professor, School of Creative Media,
City University of Hong Kong

Dr Zheng is an artist, scholar and teacher committed to socially and ecologically engaged art. In “Sing for Her,” his large-scale public artwork commissioned in 2015 and receiving over 500,000 visitors in Hong Kong, he collaborated with migrant and marginalized communities to advocate a multicultural future for Hong Kong. He is also well-known for his outstanding research projects, such as “Socially Engaged Art in Contemporary China” (seachina.net), as well as his multiple publications and lectures given worldwide.


7 & 8 November 2018

Day 1: 7 November 2018

Special Lecture by Professor Jean-Pierre Changeux, 2018 “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science winner

The acetylcholine nicotinic receptor: from chemistry to cognition

Time: 15:00 - 16:15
Venue: Senate Room, 19/F Lau Ming Wai Academic Building

Special Lecture by Professor Malik Mâaza, 2018 “José Vasconcelos” World Award of Education winner

Nanosciences & Nanotechnologies: A multidisciplinary approach for a sustainable inclusive future for humanity

Time: 17:00 - 18:15
Venue: Senate Room, 19/F Lau Ming Wai Academic Building

Day 2: 8 November 2018

Special Lecture by Professor Sir Colin Blakemore, President, World Cultural Council

How the brain creates the human mind

Time: 11:00 - 12:15
Venue: Senate Room, 19/F Lau Ming Wai Academic Building

2018 WCC Award Ceremony

  • “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science
  • “José Vasconcelos” World Award of Education
  • Special Recognition diplomas to young Hong Kong researchers
Time: 16:30 - 18:30 (16:00 Open for registration)
Venue: Wong Cheung Lo Hui Yuet Hall, 5/F Lau Ming Wai Academic Building


Harbour Plaza Metropolis
 Address: 7 Metropolis Drive, Hunghom, Kowloon, Hong Kong
 Tel: (852) 3160 6888
 Distance: 20 mins by train from Hotel to CityU
 (Hung Hom Station to Kowloon Tong Station)
 Reservation cut-off date: 5 October 2018

Royal Plaza Hotel
 Address: 193 Prince Edward Road West, Kowloon, Hong Kong
 Tel: (852) 2928 8822
 Distance: 10 mins by train from Hotel to CityU
 (Mongkok East Station to Kowloon Tong Station)
 Reservation cut-off date: 6 October 2018