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Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global)

Professor W. John Kao


Tel: (852) 2219 4664
Fax: (852) 2559 9315

Professor Kao assists the President/Vice-Chancellor in leading and strengthening the University’s global networks of collaboration, building key relationships with relevant stakeholders in Mainland China and overseas, maximizing opportunities across teaching and learning, research, knowledge exchanges and technology transfer, and deepening the University’s presence and engagement worldwide.


Before joining HKU as Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global), W. John Kao 高為元 was Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Pharmacy, Surgery, and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He also served as the Associate Dean of the Division of International Studies and an executive director of the Institute of Clinical and Translational Research, a consortium based in UW-Madison of multiple campus partners and research-intensive universities in the Midwest.

Professor Kao studied biomedical engineering at the Johns Hopkins University (BS), Case Western Reserve University (MS) and macromolecular science and engineering (PhD) also at Case Western. He subsequently worked at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich) prior to joining the faculty at UW-Madison (Assistant Professor; Associate Professor with tenure; Full Professor; University Chair Professorship). He also holds an adjunct professorship at Zhejiang University.

Professor Kao’s research focuses on developing therapeutics for cancer and wound healing. He is an elected fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering, where he also has served as the Secretary for the College of Fellows. He is on several editorial boards and his extensive involvement with industry, regulatory and policy bureaus has enabled him to build a successful record in translating enabling technologies to the market. His research has been funded continuously by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and other federal and private agencies. He has published 80 peer-reviewed papers in top journals and 170 other publications including abstracts, book chapters, and patents. He has mentored more than 60 undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate students, and clinician scientists from around the world.

Professor Kao has an international upbringing, having lived extensively in Asia, the US, and Europe since childhood. He writes, reads, and speaks Mandarin Chinese fluently. To him, internationalization is integral to a great university’s mission in education, research, and service. At UW-Madison, he has led multiple university initiatives in knowledge transfer and international engagement. He has directed the UW Shanghai Innovation Office, the first physical presence outside the state in the university’s 150 years of history. He has effectively facilitated cutting-edge research and collaboration abroad for all disciplines and promoted the university brand internationally. Professor Kao has built new bridges and strengthened existing relationships with top institutions around the world and garnered key support from public and private sectors as well as from alumni and university friends.