Leung, Gabriel M

Leung, Gabriel M

Interim Director

Helen and Francis Zimmern Professor in Population Health

Professor, Chair of Public Health Medicine

Division of Community Medicine and Public Health Practice

  • GBS, MD W Ont, MPH Harv, MD HK, FHKCCM, FHKAM (Community Medicine), FCFP, FRCP Lond Edin, Hon FHKCFP, Hon FFPH, JP


One of Asia’s most respected higher education and health leaders, Gabriel Leung is known for his commitment to expanding student opportunity, building strong institutions and nurturing impactful innovation. He is the fortieth Dean of Medicine and inaugural Helen and Francis Zimmern Professor in Population Health at the University of Hong Kong. 

His career has straddled academe and public service. Formerly, he was Head of Community Medicine at the University as well as Hong Kong's first Under Secretary for Food and Health and fifth Director of the Chief Executive's Office in government.

During his deanship, he revamped the admission infrastructure to expand access, thereby enhancing the quality and diversity of the student body. He led a major undergraduate curriculum reform exercise, notably the introduction of the “Enrichment Year”. He pioneered articulation degree programmes in bioethics, public health, physiotherapy, veterinary surgery and a whole range of biomedical disciplines with leading universities including Edinburgh, Harvard, LSHTM, Manchester, Sydney and UC Berkeley. He also introduced the ground breaking interdisciplinary BASc (Global Health and Development) degree course. Gabriel raised the largest single philanthropic donation received by HKU and in total a record HKD1.7 billion to date. He has more than doubled teaching and research space since he became dean.   

A specialist in public health medicine by training, Gabriel is one of the region’s leading epidemiologists and global health exponents. His work has revolved around topics that have major population health impact locally, where Hong Kong is a reliable and unique epidemiologic sentinel for mainland China and the Chinese diaspora, or where it is best placed to address the fundamental science at hand globally.

His research defined the epidemiology of three novel viral epidemics, namely SARS in 2003, H7N9 influenza in 2013 and most recently COVID-19. As under secretary, he led Hong Kong government's response against the 2009 influenza pandemic. He was founding co-director of HKU's World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control and currently directs the Laboratory of Data Discovery for Health at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park.

In parallel, Gabriel leads several large-scale longitudinal cohorts (Children of 1997, FAMILY, Department of Health Elderly Health Service cohort), tracking tens of thousands of lives to study the fundamental causes of non-communicable conditions and to explain the health impacts of contemporary social phenomena.

A final strand of his work concerns the economics and policy issues of health systems. His team is the government's health accountant and projects health care human resources needs. Regionally, Gabriel has tirelessly worked to build capacity throughout the Asia Pacific. He served as founding Chair of the Asia Pacific Observatory on Health Systems Policies and continues to lead its Strategic Technical Advisory Committee.

In addition to serving as a Governor of The Wellcome Trust, Gabriel regularly advises national and international agencies including the World Health Organisation, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Boao Forum for Asia, Institut Pasteur, Japan Center for International Exchange, National Centre for Infectious Diseases of Singapore and China Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is an Adjunct Professor of Peking Union Medical College Hospital and Adjunct Professorial Researcher of the China National Health Development Research Center. 

Locally, he was Vice President and Censor in Public Health Medicine of the Hong Kong College of Community Medicine, and an elected council member of the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine. He is a member of the Hospital Authority and completed two terms on the University Grants Committee, which are respectively a statutory agency responsible for all public health care services and a government advisory body on the development and funding requirements of the higher education sector.

He co-edited the Journal of Public Health (2007-14), was inaugural co-editor of Epidemics, associate editor of Health Policy and is founding deputy editor-in-chief of China CDC Weekly. He currently serves on the editorial boards of nine journals, including the British Medical Journal.

After reading medicine at the University of Western Ontario, Gabriel completed family medicine residency training in Toronto. He earned a master's from Harvard University and research doctorate from HKU.

He is an elected member of the US National Academy of Medicine and was awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star (second highest civilian honour) by the Hong Kong government for distinguished service in protecting and promoting population health. 

Gabriel is a keen amateur musician who maintains a busy schedule of arts engagements, as Principal Conductor of the HKU Union Philharmonic Orchestra, Honorary Guest Conductor of the Hong Kong Children’s Symphony and chamber pianist. He is President of the Hong Kong Schools Music and Speech Association, and serves on the boards of the Hong Kong Arts Festival and the Asian Youth Orchestra, and formerly the Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Hong Kong Sinfonietta. 


Selected Publications
  1. Leung K, Wu JT, Liu D, Leung GM. First wave COVID-19 transmissibility and severity in China outside Hubei after control measures and second wave scenario planning: a modelling impact assessment. Lancet. 2020;395:1382-93.
  2. He X, Lau EHY, Wu P, Deng X, Wang J, Hao X, Lau YC, Wong JY, Guan Y, Tan X, Mo X, Chen Y, Liao B, Chen W, Hu F, Zhang Q, Zhong M, Wu Y, Zhao L, Zhang F, Cowling BJ, Li F, Leung GM. Temporal dynamics in viral shedding and transmissibility of COVID-19. Nat Med. 2020;26:672-5.
  3. Wu JT, Leung K, Bushman M, Kishore N, Niehus R, de Salazar PM, Cowling BJ, Lipsitch M, Leung GM. Estimating clinical severity of COVID-19 from the transmission dynamics in Wuhan, China. Nat Med. 2020;26:506-10.
  4. Wu JT, Leung K, Leung GM. Nowcasting and forecasting the potential domestic and international spread of the 2019-nCoV outbreak originating in Wuhan, China: a modelling study. Lancet. 2020;395:689-697.
  5. Li Q, Guan X, Wu P, Ren R, Zhou L, Tong Y, Wang X, Leung KSM, Lau EHY, Wong JY, Xing X, Xiang N, Wu Y, Li C, Chen Q, Li D, Liu T, Zhao J , Li M, Tu W, Chen C, Jin L, Yang R, Wang Q, Zhou S, Wang R, Liu H, Luo Y, Liu Y, Shao G, Li H, Tao Z, Yang Y, Deng Z, Liu B, Ma Z, Zhang Y, Shi G, Lam TTY, Wu JT, Gao GF, Cowling BJ, Yang B, Leung GM , Feng Z. Early transmission dynamics in Wuhan, China of novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia. N Engl J Med. 2020;382:1199-1207.
  6. Ni MY, Yao XI, Leung KSM, Yau C, Leung CMC, Lun P, Flores FP, Chang WC, Cowling BJ, Leung GM. Depression and post-traumatic stress during major social unrest in Hong Kong: a ten-year prospective cohort. Lancet. 2020;395:273-284.
  7. Yu H, Wu JT, Cowling BJ, Liao Q, Fang VJ, Zhou S, Wu P, Zhou H, Lau EHY, Guo D, Ni MY, Peng Z, Feng L, Luo H, Jiang H, Li Q, Feng Z, Wang Y, Yang W, Leung GM. Effect of closure of live poultry markets on poultry-to-person transmission of avian influenza A H7N9 virus: an ecological study. Lancet. 2014;383:541-48.
  8. Yu H, Cowling BJ, Feng L, Lau EHY, Liao Q, Tsang TK, Peng Z, Wu P, Liu F, Fang VJ, Zhang H, Li M, Zeng L, Xu Z, Li Z, Luo H, Li Q, Feng Z, Cao B, Yang W, Wu JT, Wang Y, Leung GM. Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus: an assessment of clinical severity. Lancet. 2013;382:138-45.
  9. Cowling BJ, Jin L, Lau EHY, Liao Q, Wu Peng, Jiang H, Tsang TK, Zheng J, Fang VJ, Chang Z, Ni MY, Zhang Q, Ip DKM, Yu J, Li Y, Wang L, Tu W, Meng L, Wu JT, Luo H, Li Q, Shu Y, Li Z, Feng Z, Yang W, Wang Y, Leung GM, Yu H. Comparative epidemiology of human infections with avian influenza A(H7N9) and A(H5N1) viruses in China. Lancet. 2013;382:129-37.
  10. Cowling BJ, Chan KH, Fang VJ, Lau LLH, So THA, Fung ROP, Ma ESK, Kwong ASK, Chan CW, Tsui WWS, Ngai HY, Chu DWS, Lee PWY, Chiu MC, Leung GM, Peiris JSM. Comparative epidemiology of pandemic and seasonal influenza A in 2009 within households. N Engl J Med. 2010;362:2175-84.