Research Interests

Influenza and other infections of public health significance

Hong Kong, a densely populated city, is an epicentre for emerging infectious diseases. The city provides an ideal location to study influenza ecology, transmission, public health interventions, and other emerging viral pathogens, for example the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Our integrated multidisciplinary research programme includes internationally recognised expertise supported by the best laboratory and field resources, in Hong Kong and southern China, with a network of excellent international collaborations. Our research programme has six foci: 

  1. Ecology, evolution and the origin of pandemic and zoonotic influenza viruses, coronaviruses and other important emerging viruses
    • Explore ecological factors favouring interspecies transmission and the drivers of the emergence of pandemic influenza and other viruses
    • Conduct animal influenza (e.g. H5N1 and H7N9) and other emerging virus surveillance to understand virus evolution and zoonotic events
    • Integrate viral genetic information with viral functionality to identify critical molecular signatures to facilitate identification of field isolates
    • Take advantage of the city environment and the encompassing urban and rural landscape of southern China
  2. Efficient public health interventions for the control of influenza, coronavirus and other emerging viruses
    • Transmission control within communities
    • Interventions to control viral disease epidemics
    • Epidemiology and control of influenza viruses and coronaviruses
    • Novel “universal” vaccine strategies for influenza
  3. Development and spread of antimicrobial resistance
    • Monitor antimicrobial resistance (AMR) bacteria using One Health approach
  4. Influenza, coronavirus and other emerging virus pathogenesis
    • Viral and host factors related to virus pathogenesis, replication and virus-host interactions
    • Viral tropism
    • Innate and adaptive host immune responses
    • Viral determinants of interspecies transmissions
    • Acute lung injury and novel therapeutic options
  5. Modes of respiratory transmission and transmission dynamics
    • Large community-based studies of aerosol transmission
    • Experimental transmission using animal models
    • Aero-biological studies on airborne particles and virus viability
    • Contact tracing within different population subgroups
    • Seroepidemiological studies to parameterise mathematical models of virus transmission dynamics
  6. Infectious disease modeling
    • Infectious disease modeling entails developing mathematical models to assimilate various streams of clinical, virologic, demographic, mobility, social and economic data to inform epidemic preparedness, nowcasting, forecasting and response


Professor Bruzzone, Roberto

(cell biology of host-pathogen interactions)

Professor Cowling, Benjamin John

(epidemiology and transmission dynamics)

Professor Guan, Yi

(ecology, evolution, transmission and pathogenesis)

Professor Leung, Gabriel Matthew

(epidemiology and public health)

Professor Peiris, Joseph Sriyal Malik

(influenza virus, MERS coronavirus, pathogenesis, transmission, ecology sero epidemiology and control)

Professor Poon, Lit Man Leo

(virology, pathogenesis and diagnostics)

Professor Wu, Tsz Kei Joseph
(epidemiology, modelling and transmission dynamics)
Dr Chan, Chi Wai Michael

(virus-host interaction and pathogenesis)

Dr Dhanasekaran, Vijaykrishna (ecology, evolution, epidemiology and microbial genomics)

Dr Grépin, Karen (policy response to control infectious disease outbreaks)
Dr Hui, Pui Yan Kenrie

(risk assessment, pathogenesis and novel therapeutics)

Dr Ip, Ka Ming Dennis

(epidemiology, surveillance, and control of infectious diseases)

Dr Lam, Tsan Yuk Tommy

(ecology, evolution, epidemiology and bioinformatics)

Dr Leung, Sze Man Kathy (infectious disease epidemiology, modeling, and health economics)
Dr Quan, Juanchao

(Health policy, economics and health care services)

Dr Tsang, Kam Lun Tim

(biostatistics, infectious disease epidemiology and modeling)

Dr Tun, Hein Min

(microbiome, multi-omics and systems microbiology, AMR in One Health)

Dr Wu, Peng

(infectious disease epidemiology and AMR)

Dr Yen, Hui Ling

(pathogenesis and transmission)

Dr Zhu, Huachen Maria

(ecology, evolution, pathogenesis and transmission)


Non-communicable diseases in global health

South East Asia, and Hong Kong specifically, provides a contextually specific setting from which to gain a better understanding of non-communicable chronic diseases in global health. Disease patterns in Hong Kong challenge prevailing wisdom about traditional cardiovascular and diabetes disease risk factors. As the most developed, westernized and over-crowded city of China, Hong Kong provides golden opportunities for trials of preventive interventions on both communicable and non-communicable diseases. Hong Kong is a sentinel for China and other South East Asian populations currently experiencing rapid economic development and globalisation. Our research programme has fourteen foci:

a. Advanced epidemiology and statistical research methods

  • Applied to four active cohorts spanning the life course to confirm or refute empirically driven hypotheses in a unique setting
  • Emphasising innovative theoretical methods and models for population health (Mendelian randomisation, instrumental variable analysis, mathematical modelling of health services utilisation, neural networks, partial least squares, latent growth modelling and clinical decision analysis)

b. Causes of and interventions for non-communicable diseases prevention and treatment

  • Childhood experiences, growth patterns, and body composition
  • Family dynamics and lifestyle choices
  • Air pollution and climate change
  • The microbiome
  • Social disparities
  • Smoking, alcohol, healthy living, and aging

c. Social determinants of health

  • Population mental health

d. Inter- and intra-generational effects on health

e. Evaluation of population level screening policies

  • Cost effectiveness of cancer screening programmes
  • Cost effectiveness of vaccine programmes

f. Identification of new interventions to prevent non-communicable diseases

  • The role of hormones
  • Population risk perception
  • Health behaviour change and simple interventions
  • Socio-economic patterning of non-communicable diseases in South East Asian populations
  • Drivers of long-term trends

g. Application of evolutionary biology to inform public health interventions

h. Non-communicable disease impact on local and regional health service utilisation and health policy

  • Economic costs of service provision
  • Role of manpower planning and inter-professional work in service delivery models
  • Financial models for healthcare service delivery and their impact on health in Hong Kong and in China
  • Political-economic, social and personal factors

i. Physical activity and health

  • Exercise physiology and health sciences
    • Physiological responses to high-intensity exercise and physical inactivity
    • Health benefits and the underlying mechanisms of mind-body exercise
  • Physical activity epidemiology and measurement
  • Physical activity and exercise in children
  • Physiological determinants of cardiorespiratory fitness

j. Skill learning and expert performance

  • Motor learning and performance
    • Perception and performance in expert and novice populations
  • Movement rehabilitation

k. Psycho-oncology

  • The contribution of cognitive bias to psychological distress in clinical population
  • Cancer survivorship and fear of cancer recurrence
  • Doctor-patient communication and decision-making
  • Symptom burden and its impact of cancer rehabilitation
  • Research on the implementation of psychosocial and behavioural interventions in cancer care

l. Bioinformatics and cancer biostatistics

  • Big data analytics
  • Biomarker discovery
  • Machine learning
  • Public health genetics and genomics

m. Risk communication, risk perception and public health

  • Vaccine confidence

n. Approaches to health care delivery for patients with chronic illnesses


Professor Leung, Gabriel Matthew

(health policy, lifestyle and life course epidemiology)

Dr Au Yeung, Shiu Lun Ryan

(lifestyle and lifecourse epidemiology, and Mendelian randomization)

Dr Grépin, Karen

(health services research, comparative health systems and health financing)

Dr Ho, Sai Yin Daniel

(adolescent health)

Dr Kim, Youngwon

(physical activity epidemiology and measurement)

Dr Kwok, Man Ki Maggie

(lifestyle and lifecourse epidemiology and social epidemiology)

Dr Lam, Wing Tak Wendy

(behavioural health and psycho-oncology)

Dr Liao, Qiuyan Julie

(risk communication, public risk perception and behavioural decision-making)

Dr Montero, David

(integrative physiology and impact of lifestyle interventions)

Dr Ni, Yuxuan Michael

(lifestyle and lifecourse epidemiology and psychiatric epidemiology)

Dr Quan, Jianchao

(Health policy, economics and health care services)

Dr Schooling, Catherine Mary

(lifestyle and lifecourse epidemiology)

Dr Siu, Ming Fai Parco

(exercise physiology and muscle biology)

Dr Tian, Linwei

(environmental epidemiology)

Dr Zhao, Jie Jane

(lifestyle and lifecourse epidemiology and intervention)