CCST9006 Science, Technology and Big Data
Chasing Biomedical Miracles: Promises and Perils

This course is under the thematic cluster(s) of:

  • Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth (SCCE)
  • The Human Life Span (HL)

Non-Permissible Combination:
CCST9011 Biotechnology − Science and Impacts

[This is a certified Communication-intensive (CI) Course which meets all of the requirements endorsed by HKU’s Senate, including (i) the teaching assessment of written and visual communication ‘literacies’; and (ii) at least 40% of the course grade is assigned to communication-rich assessment tasks.]

Course Description

Unveiling the mystery of the “grand design” of the human body has been a formidable challenge to even the best talents. With the recent rapid developments in health technologies, many aspects of human health can now be addressed in ways that are simply unimaginable even in the recent past. In this course, we will examine how such “biomedical miracles” have offered us huge promises, but at the same time also have created new challenges that could be perhaps potentially perilous. We will see how humans are increasingly being involved or confronted with a problem of a startling scale whereby promises and perils arising from new biomedical discoveries are found to be fueling each other to grow, that can be likened to solving a very peculiar puzzle whereby finding the first piece of the puzzle immediately makes it more difficult to identify the next piece.

Such an interesting phenomenon will be vividly illustrated by examples found in the application of knowledge of the human genome, organ transplantation, antibiotics, and cell communications. Learning in this course adopts an interactive, multi-activity, student-centered and inquiry-based approach with the close assistance and attendance of tutors. Experiential learning is a main feature of this course so as to stimulate and to expand those core intellectual skills on which learning depends. On the completion of this course, students are expected to acquire transdisciplinary vision on real-life problems/matters in which biomedical science is a major constituent.

[Lectures and tutorials will be held in an integrated manner each week on Wednesday from 16:30 – 19:20. Learning is conducted by a variety of ways: short lectures, video viewing, in-class exercises, small group discussions, etc.]

Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. To acquire better skills of asking questions as the core attribute/ability underlying any form of effective communications.
  2. Describe how major biomedical discoveries have improved human health globally through elucidation of the basics of disease mechanism, diagnosis and treatment.
  3. Critically evaluate the significance of biomedical discoveries in terms of their social and ethical implications.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures (incl in-class exercises) 24
Tutorials 12
Reading / Self-study 100
Total: 136

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
In-class assessment 22
Online discussion 13
Group work 5
Poster presentation 30
Reflective writing 30

Required Reading and Viewing


Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr K.M. Yao
School of Biomedical Sciences, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 3917 9275
Email: kmyao@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr K.M. Yao
School of Biomedical Sciences, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 3917 9275
Email: kmyao@hku.hk
Dr B.B.H. Yuen
School of Biomedical Sciences, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 3917 9500
Email: yuenbbh@hku.hk
Dr J.W.Y. Ho
School of Biomedical Sciences, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 3917 9495
Email: joannaho@hku.hk