£10million gift to IRR

31 March 2023

A £10 million gift is set to further boost the Institute’s research into stem cells and tissue engineering.

The sum is the second donation from the Hong Kong-based Lee Shau Kee Foundation to the Institute for Regeneration and Repair (IRR).

It will support a programme of international collaboration in stem cell biology and will help the IRR address the rise in the number of people worldwide with chronic organ dysfunction due to disease, trauma, congenital and genetic conditions.

BioQuarter development

The donation announcement coincides with staff beginning to populate IRR's newest building at Edinburgh BioQuarter, in advance of its formal opening later this year.

The gift from the Lee Shau Kee Foundation will support the development of what will become the Lee Shau Kee Gateway at the new building.

The Gateway will form a key entrance and connecting area between wings of the building, designed to welcome and engage visiting UK and international partners seeking to develop world-leading stem cell-based therapeutics.

Hong Kong visit

Edinburgh PhD students have recently returned from a week visiting partner laboratories specialising in stem cell biology at Hong Kong’s leading universities to discuss ideas for future projects with Hong Kong-based PhD students.

The Hong Kong visit formed part of a previously announced £2 million gift from Martin KS Lee, a Director of the Lee Shau Kee Foundation.

The foundation is providing nine students from Hong Kong, the UK and Europe access to fully-funded, four-year PhD Scholarships to undertake research with teams at the IRR in Edinburgh.

As well as visiting Hong Kong University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the students also visited the new Advanced Therapy Products GMP facility at the Hong Kong Institute of Biotechnology Limited.

This new facility, which will be opened officially later in 2023, is the result of a longstanding collaboration between the Chinese University of Hong Kong, academics at the IRR in Edinburgh and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service. Our Martin Lee scholars have returned to campus brimming with ideas and enthusiasm, both for the impact their own research can have, and for future possibilities for international collaboration with Hong Kong and beyond.  The creation of the Lee Shau Kee Gateway at our new facility will provide an ideal environment for them, together with our internationally leading researchers and local and global research partners, to share and develop ideas for patient benefit.

Professor Stuart Forbes, Director of the Institute for Regeneration and Repair, University of Edinburgh


It was wonderful to meet the students last week.  Hearing of the plans that are emerging from their scientific conversations in Hong Kong, and their commitment to patient benefit via outstanding translational science, fills you with optimism for the future.  The Foundation is proud to be supporting their research and the goals of the internationally excellent work taking place within the IRR at Edinburgh, with its strong historic and current connections to Hong Kong.

Martin Lee, Director of the Lee Shau Kee Foundation

Regeneration and Repair

The IRR is a thriving research community hosting the University’s outstanding stem cell biologists and tissue engineering specialists.

Recent breakthroughs include a world-first new approach to cell therapy for liver cirrhosis, as well as recently developed new stem cell therapies for use in the brain’s white matter, which will be central to new approaches to tackle multiple sclerosis.

Professor Kei Kaji from IRR, who joined the students on their Hong Kong visit, recently published a major paper in Nature Communications describing a strategy to make the conversion of skin cells into stem cells (a process called cellular reprogramming) more efficient.

We are extremely grateful to Martin Lee and his fellow Directors of the Lee Shau Kee Foundation for their sustained, strategic and visionary support. The combination of the new gateway facilities, the support for these outstanding young researchers, and the breadth and depth of the IRR’s existing research promises to accelerate future clinical breakthroughs for local and global benefit.

Professor Sir Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh

Lee shau kee foundation

Martin Lee Doctoral Scholarship Programme