FEHD opened its new Bioanalytical Laboratory in March. The Bioanalytical Laboratory for Educational Sciences – or BLESS for short – is the first bioanalytical lab that focuses on education research in Hong Kong.
BLESS, funded by the Central Reserve Allocation Committee, is designed to advance research across departments and centres at the University.
“BLESS will pioneer the introduction of biomedical technologies into the field of education in Hong Kong, especially special education,” said its founder and Co-opted Member of the Integrated Centre for Wellbeing (I-WELL), Dr Way Lau. “We hope to open up new horizons for education research.”
Biological markers are measurable indicators of biological and physiological states. "Before BLESS, most researchers used questionnaires to measure human emotions. But these are rather subjective, in particular, children with special educational needs aren't good at expressing themselves. Biological markers can now serve as scientific evidence to support educational studies. For example, cortisol, the so-called stress hormone, is an indicator of stress and can be measured in saliva.” Dr Lau explains.
The laboratory will offer biological testing and consultations. It will also offer analyses for researchers and organisations to examine different biological markers to find out which treatments are effective, and identify abnormal cases in mental disorders.
BLESS supported I-WELL in assessing the effectiveness of the family education programme commissioned by the Hong Kong Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). Families were asked for samples of their saliva before and after “touch and play” activities. By examining the change of hormone levels in the samples, researchers could find out how families react to such activities and whether those activities are effective in building a positive relationship between parents and their children.
BLESS is also working closely with several departments and units, including the Department of Special Education and Counselling, Department of Health and Physical Education, Centre for Educational and Developmental Sciences etc.
As the establishment of BLESS illustrates, FEHD strives for new perspectives and dimensions in the education sector. We seek to foster collaboration with different forms of expertise and take interdisciplinary research to the Next Level.