Leung, Hiu Lan Nancy

Assistant Professor

Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

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

Professor Nancy Leung is Assistant Professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong. Her research focuses on the epidemiology of respiratory virus infections, and she conducts large-scale community-based longitudinal observational cohorts, randomized trials and field studies on the vaccine immunogenicity, individual and population immunity, transmission and burden of influenza, COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. Lately, she is interested in applying causal inference analyses to assess effectiveness of vaccination. Together, Professor Leung has received two Best Abstract Awards and three Fellowships, and her research has been highlighted as a Research Case by the local government. Professor 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. Professor Leung has been featured as one of the “Five science stars making their mark in China” by Nature Index.

Professor Leung has completed comprehensive research training in the epidemiology and virology/immunology of human respiratory virus infections. Professor Leung conducted wet-lab experiments to study the molecular mechanism of antibody-dependent enhancement of SARS at the virus-host interface (MPhil, HKU-Pasteur Research Centre); designed and set up hospital-based field studies on the aerosol transmission of influenza and other respiratory viruses, and community-based longitudinal observational cohorts and randomized vaccine trials on the burden and the effects of repeated vaccination for influenza and COVID-19 (PhD/postdoc, HKU School of Public Health); and adopts causal inference framework to assess the importance of different immune biomarkers as correlate of protection for COVID-19 and influenza vaccines (Takemi Fellow, CAUSALab, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health).

Professor Leung has 10+ years of experience in international interdisciplinary collaborative research, and set up epidemiological studies and collaborations 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, Lancet Microbe, Nature Microbiology, Science Translational Medicine, American Journal of Epidemiology and BMJ Global Health; and research funding agencies including UK Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust.

Professor 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 has also taught an introductory epidemiology course at the graduate level (class size 200+).

Fellowships and Awards:

  1. Takemi Fellowship Program in International Health, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, United States, 2022 (as Visiting Scholar at Department of Global Health and Population, and CAUSALab/ Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, Department of Epidemiology)
  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*, Cohen CA*, Martín-Sánchez M, Au NYM, Luk LLH, Tsang LCH, Kwan KKH, Chaothai S, Fung LWC, Cheung AWL, Chan KCK, Li JKC, Leung YWY, Ng YY, Kaewpreedee P, Jia JZ, Ip DKM, Poon LLM, Leung GM, Peiris JSM, Valkenburg SA, Cowling BJ. Comparative antibody and cell-mediated immune responses, reactogenicity, and efficacy of homologous and heterologous boosting with CoronaVac and BNT162b2 (Cobovax): an open-label, randomised trial. Lancet Microbe 2023. [2022 IF 38.200, ranked 2/96 (Q1) in “Infectious diseases”]
  2. 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 2023; 76(3): e299-e307. [2022 IF 11.8, ranked 16/161 (Q1) in “Immunology”]
  3. Leung NHL. Transmissibility and transmission of respiratory viruses. Nat Rev Microbiol 2021; 19(8): 528-45. [2022 IF 88.1, ranked 1/135 (Q1) in Microbiology; Times cited: 239] (Highly Cited Paper; Part of Nature Research’s Coronavirus Collection)
  4. 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. [2022 IF 3.7, ranked 62/135 (Q2) in Microbiology; Times cited: 1] (*Joint first author)
  5. 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. [2022 IF 82.9, ranked 1/136 (Q1) in Medicine, Research & Experimental; Times cited: 1270] (Highly Cited Paper; Altmetric score Top 50 of all time; Described as one of 2020’s most significant coronavirus research papers by Nature Podcast)
  6. 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. [2022 IF 5.8, ranked 34/207 (Q1) in Public, Environmental & Occupational Health; Times cited: 4] (†Senior/Corresponding author)
  7. 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. [2022 IF 6.4, ranked 19/96 (Q1) in Infectious Diseases; Times cited: 10] (Editor’s Choice)
  8. 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. [2022 IF 5.0, ranked 48/207 (Q1) in Public, Environmental & Occupational Health; Times cited: 3] (†Corresponding author)
  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. [2022 IF 5.4, ranked 23/180 (Q1) in Public, Environmental & Occupational Health; Times cited: 83]
  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. [2022 IF 4.8, ranked 14/36 (Q2) in Virology; Times cited: 160] (*Joint first author)