Karen Lam Siu-ling- Class of '69

Karen Lam Siu-ling, Chair Professor in Medicine at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), holds a number of responsibilities -


- Chairman, Medical Sciences Group, Faculty of Medicine, HKU
- Deputy Head, Department of Medicine; HKU
- Director, Centre of Endocrinology and Diabetes; HKU
- Chairman, Board of Management, Clinical Trial Center, HKU
- Chief, Division of Endocrinology, Queen Mary Hospital
- Director, K.K.Leung Diabetes Centre; Queen Mary Hospital
- Honorary Consultant, Queen Mary Hospital
- Visiting Professor, Sun Yat Sun University of Medical Sciences, Guangzhou, & Shantao University, PRC

Her current research includes genetics and pathogenesis of diabetes and its complications, obesity, and pituitary disorders. She has made significant research contributions in clinical and basic endocrinology, diabetes and lipid metabolism, with over 160 referred research/review publications.

In addition to her work as a medical doctor, a lecturing professor and a researcher in the medical field, Karen has two lovely children, daughter Victoria (aged 11 and studying at DGS) and son Benjamin (aged 10 and studying at St. Joseph's) to look after. Karen is married to Selwyn So, who is as busy as Karen (almost!) as he works as a doctor and also as a barrister.

Karen was interviewed on 22nd November, 2003 by Grace Lam and Winnie Kong, who set out their interview below.

Finding time for the family

Karen and her husband do not normally finish work until 7:30p.m. to 8p.m. each evening. Once they arrive home, time is totally allocated to the children. The whole family normally dines together each evening; this allows time for the children chatting to their parents as to their whole day's affairs and any special areas of interest and/or concerns. After dinner, Karen and her husband will help with the children's homework, if necessary and then they will play some games together.

The weekend is saved for the children. Besides going to church every Sunday morning, the whole family will play badminton together in the weekend, and/or go hiking in the cooler weather and swim in the warmer weather.

Karen has been encouraging her children to look after themselves since they were at a very young age. She is proud that both her children are relatively independent; they attend to their schoolwork themselves (achieving very good results) and seek help only if necessary; they read a lot and participate in a number of extra curricular activities which include boy scouts/girl guides, badminton, swimming and studying French. The children look up to their parents as their role models.



Academic achievements

Karen finished her primary study at St. Rose of Lima and attained the highest score in the Hong Kong primary school certificate examination. She gained a scholarship to receive her secondary education at Diocesan Girls' School from 1964 to 1969 and again attained the highest score in the Hong Kong Form 5 school certificate examination. After spending two more years at DGS after the Form 5 graduation, Karen enrolled as a medical student in 1971 at the University of Hong Kong. With consistency, she graduated from the Medical Faculty, University of Hong Kong yet again scoring the highest marks.


Memories of the DGS schooldays

Karen recalls that she did not start her early days of education in DGS without difficulty. Moving from St. Rose of Lima, which used Chinese as the medium of instruction, to DGS, which used English (very high standard as well) as the medium of instruction, Karen found it difficult to cope with her work required upfront. Realising that she must resolve the problem on her own and quickly, Karen worked harder on her subjects, sought help from her colleagues by borrowing their notes for copying and spent a lot of her free times in reading English books with the aim to improve the capability of mastering the language. One thing that Karen always believes is that with determination, all problems can be resolved.



The teachers that Karen remembers most include Mrs. Nellie Yu who helped her a lot in English. Through Mrs. Yu, Karen learnt to understand sentence structure a lot better and how to write in a precise and clear manner which proved to be very useful in the written work (which includes a lot of research papers) currently required of her.

The other teachers that Karen has a lot of memory of are Mrs. O'Connell who taught her oral English and Miss Manily who taught her music. Karen thinks that it is particularly good for DGS to provide music class for all the forms in secondary school, giving girls an opportunity to learn music theory even if they are not involved in any particular music training.

Things gained at DGS

Having spent seven years at DGS, Karen made a lot of friends, some of whom she is still seeing on a regular basis nowadays. They have small group gatherings once every month or bi-monthly.

Karen treasured the days at school and enjoyed particularly the extra curricular activities provided/organized by the school or the girls themselves. Through these activities, the girls learnt how to build up their organizational skill, self-confidence and independence, characteristics of DGS girls which are helpful for them in many aspects throughout life.


Advice to girls


In addition to working hard and being determined to achieve success, the other piece of advice that Karen gives to the girls is that one should make their choice of studying and career based on one's own interest and capabilities rather than the glamour of the subject or the money generating power of any profession. The demand for any particular type of professionals varies over time so the key criteria is to study the subject that you are capable of handling and has interest in, then work hard for it.


Karen has been participating in the career talks organized by the school in the past few years. She is most willing to talk to the girls who want to know more about developing a career in the medical field and her contact address is Department of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong.