Leung, Hiu Lan Nancy

Research Assistant Professor

Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

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

Dr. Leung is currently a Research Assistant Professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics of the HKUMed School of Public Health. Her research focuses on infectious disease epidemiology, with major interest in study design, establishment of cohorts and data analyses of large community-based studies on the transmission, burden, individual and population immunity, and vaccine immunogenicity of respiratory virus infections.

Dr. Leung has published academic articles as first-, corresponding- and senior- author (h-index 11, # citations 918), including a first-authored article in Nature Medicine which ranked #5 over 14 million research outputs internationally ever tracked by Altmetric at the time of publication, and a single-author article in Nature Reviews Microbiology on respiratory virus transmission. She has delivered 7 oral presentations in international conferences. She participates actively in international collaborative research and has received funding supports from major local and international grants, including the Hong Kong 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 (CEIRS) network and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She is a reviewer for 17 academic journals, including JAMA, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Environmental Science & Technology, BMJ Global Health, Clinical Epidemiology, American Journal of Infection Control, etc. She also teaches an introductory epidemiology course at the graduate level.

Dr. Leung has completed comprehensive trainings in studying the epidemiology of human respiratory virus infections at the population level and virus-host interaction at the molecular level. Her postdoctoral research focuses on the establishment and data analyses for large prospective longitudinal cohorts and vaccine trials on respiratory virus burden, individual and population immunity, and repeated vaccinations in Hong Kong, mainland China and the United Kingdom. During PhD, she designed a series of field studies on the aerosol transmission of influenza virus and other respiratory virus infections, on which she received two Best Abstract Awards from international conferences. Her MPhil focused on the molecular mechanism of antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) to evaluate the safety of a SARS vaccine candidate, which was cited by a Lancet review article on COVID-19 immunity and vaccine development. Dr. Leung also 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.


  1. Best Poster Award in the category ‘Public Health’, Options for the Control of Influenza X, 2019
  2. Best Abstract in the category ‘Infection Control’, 17th Asia-Pacific Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infection cum 8th International Infection Control Conference, 2018
Selected Publications
  1. Leung NHL. Transmissibility, transmission and its control of respiratory viruses. Nat Rev Microbiol 2021. (Accepted). [2019 IF 34.209, ranked 1/136 (Q1) in Microbiology]
  2. 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. [2019 IF 36.130, ranked 1/139 (Q1) in Medicine, Research & Experimental] (Altmetric Attention Score of >21000, ranking #5 over 14 million research outputs (top 1%) ever tracked at the time of publication, and #1 of all 19252 research outputs from China published between November 2019 - October 2020 according to the Nature Index; Described as one of 2020’s most significant coronavirus research papers by Nature Podcast)
  3. 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. [2019 IF 4.739, ranked 19/193 (Q1) in Public, Environmental & Occupational Health] (†Senior/Corresponding author)
  4. 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. [2019 IF 5.022, ranked 11/92 (Q2) in Infectious Diseases] (Editor’s Choice)
  5. 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. [2019 IF 4.526, ranked 23/193 (Q1) in Public, Environmental & Occupational Health] (†Corresponding author)
  6. Cowling BJ, Perera R, Valkenburg SA, Leung NHL, Iuliano AD, Tam YH, Wong JHF, Fang VJ, Li APY, So HC, Ip DKM, Azziz-Baumgartner E, Fry AM, Levine MZ, Gangappa S, Sambhara S, Barr IG, Skowronski DM, Peiris JSM, Thompson MG. Comparative Immunogenicity of Several Enhanced Influenza Vaccine Options for Older Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Clin Infect Dis 2020; 71(7): 1704-14. [2019 IF 8.313, ranked 16/159 (Q1) in Immunology]
  7. Shiu EYC, Leung NHL, Cowling BJ. Controversy around airborne versus droplet transmission of respiratory viruses: implication for infection prevention. Curr Opin Infect Dis 2019; 32(4): 372-9. [2019 IF 4.577, ranked 18/92 (Q1) in Infectious Diseases] (†Corresponding author) (Top 1% most cited published in the same year by the journal)
  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. [2019 IF 5.085, ranked 39/159 (Q1) in Immunology]
  9. Cowling BJ, Xu C, Tang F, Zhang J, Shen J, Havers F, Wendladt R, Leung NH, Greene C, Iuliano AD, Shifflett P, Song Y, Zhang R, Kim L, Chen Y, Chu DK, Zhu H, Shu Y, Yu H, Thompson MG, CARES investigators. Cohort profile: the China Ageing REespiratory infections Study (CARES), a prospective cohort study in older adults in Eastern China. BMJ Open 2017; 7(10): e017503. [2019 IF 2.496, ranked 52/165 (Q2) in Medicine, General & Internal]
  10. Leung NH, Zhou J, Chu DK, Yu H, Lindsley WG, Beezhold DH, Yen HL, Li Y, Seto WH, Peiris JS, Cowling BJ. Quantification of Influenza Virus RNA in Aerosols in Patient Rooms. PLoS One 2016; 11(2): e0148669. [2019 IF 2.740, ranked 27/71 (Q2) in Multidisciplinary Sciences] (Top 10% most cited published in the same year by the journal)
  11. 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. [2019 IF 5.071, ranked 16/193 (Q1) in Public, Environmental & Occupational Health]
  12. 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. [2019 IF 2.579, ranked 23/37 (Q3) in Virology] (†Joint first author) (Cited by a Lancet review article on COVID-19 immunity and vaccine development)