Leung, Hiu Lan Nancy

Assistant Professor

Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

  • PhD (Public Health), MPhil (Microbiology), BSc (Biochemistry)

Dr. Nancy Leung is Assistant Professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the HKU School of Public Health. Her research focuses on infectious disease epidemiology, with a long-term research goal of conducting impactful research on susceptibility to infectious diseases in particular respiratory virus infections. In recent years, Dr. Leung is designing large-scale longitudinal cohorts, vaccine trials and field studies on individual and population immunity, vaccine immunogenicity, disease burden and transmission of influenza viruses, coronaviruses and other respiratory viruses. Together, Dr. Leung has received two Best Abstract Awards and three Fellowships, and her research has been highlighted as a Research Case by the local government. Dr. Leung is a co-Chair for the World Health Organization (WHO) technical working group on COVID-19 airborne risk assessment, and a member of the WHO advisory group on the routes of transmission of respiratory pathogens. Dr. Leung has been featured as one of the “Five science stars making their mark in China” by Nature Index.

Dr. Leung has completed comprehensive research training in the epidemiology (PhD) and virology/immunology (MPhil) of human respiratory virus infections. Her postdoctoral research focuses on the epidemiology of human respiratory virus infections, understanding different modes of transmission, estimating disease burden in the community, evaluating individual immune responses after influenza virus infections or repeated vaccinations, and lately focusing on immune responses after COVID-19 vaccination and infection (h-index 15, citations 2,241, including 2 Highly Cited Papers and 1 Hot Paper in Field). During PhD, she designed a series of field studies on the aerosol transmission of influenza virus, coronaviruses and other respiratory viruses. Her MPhil focused on conducting wet-lab experiments at the virus-host interface to investigate the molecular mechanism of antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) of the SARS coronavirus. Dr. Leung has a strong interest in field epidemiology, in particular on designing and adopting electronic systems for data capture and quality control, specimen tracking and workflow monitoring to facilitate the management of large-scale community studies. She also teaches an introductory epidemiology course at the graduate level.

Dr. Leung has over 10 years of experience in both local and international interdisciplinary collaborative research, with epidemiological studies and collaborators locally as well as in the US, UK and mainland China. She has received funding supports from major local and international grants including the Hong Kong Health and Medical Research Fund, Theme-based Research Scheme, the China Guangdong Natural Science Fund (廣東省自然科學基金), the United States NIAID Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance/ Response (CEIRS/ CEIRR) network and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She is a reviewer for international academic journals across different disciplines such as JAMA, Nature Microbiology, Science Translational Medicine and Environmental Science & Technology; and research funding agencies including UK Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust.

Fellowships and Awards:

  1. Takemi Fellowship Program in International Health, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, United States, 2022
  2. Research Fellowship Scheme, Health and Medical Research Fund (HMRF), Hong Kong, 2021
  3. Faculty Outstanding Research Output Award, LKS Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, 2021
  4. Best Poster Award in the category ‘Public Health’, Options for the Control of Influenza X, 2019
  5. Best Abstract in the category ‘Infection Control’, 17th Asia-Pacific Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infection cum 8th International Infection Control Conference, 2018
  6. Sino-British Fellowship Trust Visitorship, Sino-British Fellowship Trust, United Kingdom, 2016 (for academic visit at University College London)


Selected Publications
  1. Leung NHL, Cheng SMS, Martín-Sánchez M, Au NYM, Ng YY, Luk LLH, Chan KCK, Li JKC, Leung YWY, Tsang LCH, Chaothai S, Kwan KKH, Ip DKM, Poon LLM, Leung GM, Peiris JSM, Cowling BJ. Immunogenicity of a third dose of BNT162b2 to ancestral SARS-CoV-2 & Omicron variant in adults who received two doses of inactivated vaccine. Clin Infect Dis 2022. [2021 IF 20.999, ranked 7/161 in “Immunology”]
  2. Leung NHL. Transmissibility and transmission of respiratory viruses. Nat Rev Microbiol 2021; 19(8): 528-45. [2021 IF 78.297, ranked 2/142 (Q1) in Microbiology] (Highly Cited Paper; Hot Paper; Part of Nature Research’s Coronavirus Collection)
  3. Xiao C*, Leung NHL*, Cheng Y*, Lei H, Ling S, Lin X, Tao R, Huang X, Guan W, Yang Z, Cowling BJ, Zanin M, Wong S-S. Seroprevalence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in Guangdong Province, China between March to June 2020. Pathogens 2021; 10:1505. [2021 IF 4.531, ranked 79/157 (Q3) in Microbiology] (*Joint first author)
  4. Leung NHL, Chu DKW, Shiu EYC, Chan KH, McDevitt JJ, Hau BJP, Yen HL, Li Y, Ip DKM, Peiris JSM, Seto WH, Leung GM, Milton DK, Cowling BJ. Respiratory Virus Shedding in Exhaled Breath and Efficacy of Face Masks. Nat Med 2020; 26(5): 676-80. [2021 IF 87.241, ranked 1/139 (Q1) in Medicine, Research & Experimental] (Highly Cited Paper; Altmetric score Top 30 of all time; Described as one of 2020’s most significant coronavirus research papers by Nature Podcast)
  5. Shiu EYC, Huang W, Ye D, Xie Y, Mo J, Li Y, Cowling BJ, Yang Z, Leung NHL. Frequent recovery of influenza A but not influenza B virus RNA in aerosols in pediatric patient rooms. Indoor Air 2020; 30(5): 805-15. [2021 IF 6.554, ranked 34/210 (Q1) in Public, Environmental & Occupational Health] (†Senior/Corresponding author)
  6. Fong MW, Leung NHL, Xiao J, Chu DKW, Cheng SMS, So HC, Li Y, Ip DKM, Peiris JSM, Cowling BJ. Presence of influenza virus on touch-surfaces in kindergartens and primary schools. J Infect Dis 2020; 222(8): 1329-33. [2021 IF 7.759, ranked 19/94 (Q1) in Infectious Diseases] (Editor’s Choice)
  7. Lim WW, Leung NHL, Sullivan SG, Tchetgen Tchetgen EJ, Cowling BJ. Distinguishing causation from correlation in the use of correlates of protection to evaluate and develop influenza vaccines. Am J Epidemiol 2020; 189(3): 185-92. [2021 IF 5.363, ranked 55/210 (Q2) in Public, Environmental & Occupational Health] (†Corresponding author)
  8. Valkenburg SA, Leung NHL, Bull MB, Yan LM, Li APY, Poon LLM, Cowling BJ. The Hurdles From Bench to Bedside in the Realization and Implementation of a Universal Influenza Vaccine. Front Immunol 2018; 9: 1479. [2021 IF 8.786, ranked 33/161 (Q1) in Immunology]
  9. Leung NH, Xu C, Ip DK, Cowling BJ. Review Article: The Fraction of Influenza Virus Infections That Are Asymptomatic: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Epidemiology 2015; 26(6): 862-72. [2021 IF 4.860, ranked 67/210 (Q2) in Public, Environmental & Occupational Health]
  10. Yip MS*, Leung NH*, Cheung CY, Li PH, Lee HH, Daeron M, Peiris JS, Bruzzone R, Jaume M. Antibody-dependent infection of human macrophages by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus. Virol J 2014; 11(1): 82. [2021 IF 5.922, ranked 13/37 (Q2) in Virology] (*Joint first author)