Stem cells have the power to self-renew and to generate daughter cells that would develop into different kinds of specialized body cells.

Regenerative medicine takes advantage of stem cells to treat diseases by transplanting stem cells to damaged organs or stimulating endogenous stem cells to take reparative actions.

Neural stem cells, found in both the embryonic and adult brains, offer hope for incurable brain diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and clinical depression.

In July 2012, under the Theme-based Research Scheme, the Hong Kong Research Grant Council awarded HK$60.8 million to a inter-disciplinary team, led by Professor Nancy Y. Ip, for a pioneering initiative entitled "Stem Cell Strategy for Nervous System Disorders".

In March 2013, the Center for Stem Cell Research at HKUST, co‐directed by Professors Nancy Y. Ip and Zhenguo Wu, was established. The Center's mission is to promote neural stem cell research. The Center will provide shared facilities, hold regular research seminars, journal clubs and discussions.