Schooling, Catherine Mary

Honorary Associate Professor and Cluster Leader (Non-communicable Diseases in Global Health)

Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

  • MA (Pure Maths & Medieval History), MSc (Operational Research), MSc (Statistics), PhD (Epidemiology)

Dr Mary Schooling joined the School of Public Health at HKU in 2002 as a part-time teaching assistant after obtaining a PhD in Epidemiology from University College London (UK) following a career in IT and Operations Research starting at IBM. Dr Schooling is also a Professor at CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, City University of New York. She is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (BMJ Publishing Group) and of PLoS ONE, a Preventive Medicine Editorial board member and an Advisory Editor for Social Science and Medicine.

Dr Schooling’s public health research focuses on finding new interventions for major non-communicable diseases. Dr Schooling is using well-established theory from evolutionary biology, i.e., that growth and reproduction trade-off against longevity, to explain population health, to optimize early life interventions, and to identify new interventions. Dr Schooling is also exploiting unique attributes of Southern China to determine the role of key modifiable exposures, such as alcohol use, diet, obesity, physical activity, breastfeeding and traditional Chinese medicines, in non-communicable diseases. Finally, Dr Schooling is exploiting discrepancies between East and West to identify novel drivers of population health. Key resources for this program are cohort studies, i.e., "Children of 1997", the Elderly Health Service Cohort and the Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study, and innovative methods, such as Mendelian randomization.

This interdisciplinary research program has yielded several translatable mechanistic insights.

  1. An explanation for the changing patterns of disease with the epidemiological transition, including the emergence of higher rates of ischemic cardiovascular disease in men than women and the differing patterns of disease by migration status, specifically the higher risk of diabetes, haemorrhagic stroke and infection related cancers but lower risk of hormone related cancers and ischemic cardiovascular disease often seen in migrants from less to more economically developed settings.
  2. Recognition by the United States Food and Profug Administration (2014/5) and Health Canada (2014) that androgens are a new cardiovascular disease risk factor, with impact on testosterone prescription and practice
  3. Identification of existing interventions, such as neurokinin 3 receptor antagonists, the traditional Chinese medicine, puerarin, copper and aspartate, likely acting on the reproductive axis, which could be used more generally to combat cardiovascular disease.
Selected Publications
  1. Luo S, Au Yeung SL, Zhao JV, Burgess S, Schooling CM, The association of genetically predicted testosterone with thromboembolism, heart failure and myocardial infraction: a Mendelian randomization study using the UK Biobank,BMJ, in press
  2.  Schooling CM, Tachykinin neurokinin 3 receptor antagonists: a new treatment for cardiovascular disease? Lancet, 2017 Aug 12;390 (10095):709-711 [link]
  3. Au Yeung SL, Luo S, Schooling CM. The Impact of Glycated Hemoglobin (HbA(1c)) on Cardiovascular Disease Risk: A Mendelian Randomization Study Using UK Biobank. Diabetes Care. 2018 Sep;41(9):1991-1997
  4. Kodali HP, Pavilonis BT, Schooling CM, Effects of copper and zinc on ischemic heart disease and myocardial infarction: a Mendelian randomization study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2018 Jul 3 [link]
  5. .Au Yeung SL, Jiang CQ, Long MJ, Cheng KK, Liu B, Zhang WS, Lam TH, Leung GM, Schooling CM, Evaluation of moderate alcohol use with QT interval and heart rate using Mendelian randomization analysis among older Southern Chinese men in the Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study, American Journal of Epidemiology 2015;182:320-7 AJE Paper of the year [link]
  6. Xu L, Freeman G, Cowling BJ, Schooling CM, Testosterone therapy and cardiovascular events among men: a systematic review and meta-analysis of placebo-controlled randomized trials, BMC Medicine 2013;11(1):108 [link]
  7. Schooling CM, Au Yeung SL, Freeman G, Cowling BJ, The effect of statins on testosterone in men and women, a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, BMC Medicine, 2013:Feb 28;11:57 [link]
  8. Schooling CM, Freeman G, Cowling BJ, Mendelian Randomization and estimation of treatment efficacy for chronic diseases, American Journal of Epidemiology, 2013;177:1128-33 – AJE Paper of the year [link]
  9. Schooling CM, Leung GM, A socio-biological explanation for social disparities in non-communicable chronic diseases – the product of history? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2010;64(11):941-9 [link]
  10. Schooling CM, Lam TH, Li ZH, Ho SY, Chan WM, Ho KS, Tham MK, Cowling BJ, Leung GM. Obesity, physical activity and mortality in a prospective Chinese elderly cohort, Archives of Internal Medicine, 2006; 166 1498-504 [link]