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, and publishes or presents results regularly in international peer-reviewed journals or conferences (h-index 12, # citations 1,344). 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 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 estimating respiratory virus burden and population immunity, and evaluating individual immune responses after infections or 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, coronaviruses and other respiratory virus infections, on which she received two Best Abstract Awards. 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 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 participates actively in international collaborative research and has received funding supports from major local and international grants as Principal or Co- Investigator, 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 (CEIRS) network and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She is a reviewer for 22 international academic journals (e.g., JAMA, Nature Communications and Clinical Infectious Diseases) and the UK Medical Research Council.


  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 and transmission of respiratory viruses. Nat Rev Microbiol 2021. [2020 IF 60.633, ranked 1/142 (Q1) in Microbiology] (Part of Nature Research’s Coronavirus Collection)
  2. 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. (In press) (*Joint first author) [2020 IF 3.492, ranked 67/137 (Q2) in Microbiology]
  3. 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. [2020 IF 53.440, ranked 1/140 (Q1) in Medicine, Research & Experimental] (Altmetric score Top 20 of all time; Described as one of 2020’s most significant coronavirus research papers by Nature Podcast)
  4. 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. [2020 IF 5.770, ranked 24/203 (Q1) in Public, Environmental & Occupational Health] (†Senior/Corresponding author)
  5. 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. [2020 IF 5.226, ranked 18/92 (Q1) in Infectious Diseases] (Editor’s Choice)
  6. 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. [2020 IF 4.897, ranked 33/203 (Q1) in Public, Environmental & Occupational Health] (†Corresponding author)
  7. 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. [2020 IF 9.079, ranked 18/162 (Q1) in Immunology]
  8. 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. [2020 IF 4.915, ranked 24/92 (Q2) in Infectious Diseases] (†Corresponding author) (Top 1% most cited published in the same year by the journal)
  9. 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. [2020 IF 7.561, ranked 24/162 (Q1) in Immunology]
  10. 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. [2020 IF 2.692, ranked 64/169 (Q2) in Medicine, General & Internal]
  11. 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. [2020 IF 3.240, ranked 26/73 (Q2) in Multidisciplinary Sciences] (Top 10% most cited published in the same year by the journal)
  12. 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. [2020 IF 4.822, ranked 35/203 (Q1) in Public, Environmental & Occupational Health]
  13. 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. [2020 IF 4.099, ranked 15/36 (Q2) in Virology] (*Joint first author) (Cited by a Lancet review article on COVID-19 immunity and vaccine development)