The Faculty of Education and Human Development at The Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK) launched its new Bioanalytical Laboratory for Educational Sciences (BLESS) with paid services in July 2020. This is the first bioanalytical lab to focus on education research in Hong Kong.
BLESS is designed to advance the research capability across departments and centers at the University. It is currently working closely with various departments and units, including the Department of Special Education and Counselling, the Department of Health and Physical Education, and the Centre for Educational and Developmental Sciences.
“BLESS will pioneer the introduction and application of biomedical technologies into the field of education in Hong Kong, especially special education,” said Dr Way Lau Kwok-wai, Founder of BLESS and Co-opted Member of the Integrated Centre for Wellbeing (I-WELL). “We hope to open up new horizons for education research.”
Dr Lau explains, “Most researchers measure human emotions using questionnaires, but the results are rather subjective, particularly as children with special educational needs aren’t good at expressing themselves. At BLESS, biological markers, which are measurable indicators of biological and physiological states, are used 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.”
BLESS has supported I-WELL in assessing the effectiveness of the family education program commissioned by the Hong Kong Young Women’s Christian Association. 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 constructive in building a positive relationship between parents and their children.
In addition to offering biological testing and consultations, BLESS will provide researchers and organizations with analyses to examine different biological markers to identify effective treatments and recognize abnormal cases in mental disorders.