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 the ecology, transmission and public health interventions of emerging viral pathogens, such as the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and zoonotic viruses with pandemic potential such as the avian and swine influenza viruses. 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 eight foci: 

  1. Ecology, evolution and the origin of pandemic and zoonotic influenza, coronaviruses and other important emerging viruses
    1. Explore ecological factors favouring interspecies transmission and the drivers of the emergence of pandemic influenza and other viruses
    2. Conduct animal influenza (e.g. H5N1 and H7N9) and other emerging virus surveillance to understand virus evolution and zoonotic events
    3. Integrate viral genetic information with viral functionality to identify critical molecular signatures to facilitate identification of field isolates
    4. 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, coronaviruses and other emerging viruses
    1. Transmission control within communities
    2. Interventions to control viral disease epidemics
    3. Epidemiology and control of influenza viruses and coronaviruses
    4. Novel “universal” vaccine strategies for influenza

  3. Development and spread of antimicrobial resistance
    1. Monitor antimicrobial resistance (AMR) bacteria using One Health approach

  4. Influenza, coronaviruses and other emerging virus pathogenesis
    1. Viral and host factors related to virus pathogenesis, replication and virus-host interactions
    2. Viral tropism
    3. Innate and adaptive host immune responses
    4. Viral determinants of interspecies transmissions
    5. Acute lung injury and novel therapeutic options

  5. Modes of respiratory transmission and transmission dynamics
    1. Large community-based studies of aerosol transmission
    2. Experimental transmission using animal models
    3. Aero-biological studies on airborne particles and virus viability
    4. Contact tracing within different population subgroups
    5. Seroepidemiological studies to parameterise mathematical models of virus transmission dynamics

  6. Infectious disease modelling
    1. 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

  7. Genomic epidemiology and evolution for public health
    1. Track pathogen transmission over spatial scales, from local outbreaks to global pandemics
    2. Combine genomic data with individual-level metadata to identify demographic factors driving transmission patterns
    3. Integrate emerging data sources (such as wastewater surveillance) with population genetics and molecular evolution
    4. Apply phylodynamics – the combination of epidemiology, evolution, and immunodynamics – to address key questions regarding epidemic preparedness and control
    5. Changing dynamics of epidemic and endemic viruses under COVID-19 control strategies

  8. Individual and population immunity
    1. Community-based longitudinal cohort studies and vaccine trials on influenza and COVID-19 vaccination and infections
    2. Vaccine reactogenicity and immunogenicity
    3. Correlates of protection against infection and severe disease
    4. Individual heterogeneity in immune responses
    5. Impact of individual and population immunity on herd immunity, transmission dynamics and epidemic size
    6. Alternative vaccination strategies


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 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 Ali, Sheikh Taslim

Infectious disease epidemiology, transmission dynamics, and outbreak control

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, Kai Ming Dennis

Epidemiology, surveillance, and control of infectious diseases

Dr Lam, Tsan Yuk Tommy

Ecology, evolution, epidemiology and bioinformatics

Dr Leung, Hiu Lan Nancy

Epidemiology, respiratory virus transmission and immune responses, community-based longitudinal cohorts and vaccine trials

Dr Leung, Sze Man Kathy Infectious disease epidemiology, modeling, and health economics
Dr Quan, Jianchao

Health policy, economics and health care services

Dr Tsang, Kam Lun Tim

Biostatistics, infectious disease epidemiology and modeling

Dr Wong, Sook San

Population immunity and humoral immunity to respiratory viruses

Dr Wu, Peng

Infectious disease epidemiology and AMR

Dr Yen, Hui Ling

Pathogenesis and transmission

Dr Zanin, Mark

Influenza pathogenesis, transmission and novel therapeutics

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:

  1. Advanced epidemiology and statistical research methods
    1. Applied to four active cohorts spanning the life course to confirm or refute empirically driven hypotheses in a unique setting
    2. 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)

  2. Causes of and interventions for non-communicable diseases prevention and treatment
    1. Childhood experiences, growth patterns, and body composition
    2. Family dynamics and lifestyle choices
    3. Air pollution and climate change
    4. The microbiome
    5. Social disparities
    6. Smoking, alcohol, healthy living, and aging

  3. Population mental health
    1. Cross-national and global mental health
    2. Psychobehavioural responses to population events
    3. Promotion of mental wellbeing and the prevention of mental health disorders

  4. Inter- and intra-generational effects on health

  5. Evaluation of population level screening policies
    1. Cost effectiveness of cancer screening programmes
    2. Cost effectiveness of vaccine programmes

  6. Identification of new interventions to prevent non-communicable diseases
    1. The role of hormones
    2. Population risk perception
    3. Health behaviour change and simple interventions
    4. Socio-economic patterning of non-communicable diseases in South East Asian populations
    5. Drivers of long-term trends

  7. Application of evolutionary biology to inform public health interventions

  8. Non-communicable disease impact on local and regional health service utilisation and health policy
    1. Economic costs of service provision
    2. Role of manpower planning and inter-professional work in service delivery models
    3. Financial models for healthcare service delivery and their impact on health in Hong Kong and in China
    4. Political-economic, social and personal factors

  9. Physical activity and health
    1. Exercise physiology and health sciences
      1. Physiological responses to high-intensity exercise and physical inactivity
      2. Health benefits and the underlying mechanisms of mind-body exercise
    2. Physical activity epidemiology and measurement
      1. Role of physical activity in modifying the genetic risk of chronic diseases
      2. Use of wearables and genomic technologies in promoting physical activity
    3. Physical activity and exercise in children
    4. Physiological determinants of cardiorespiratory fitness

  10. Skill learning and expert performance
    1. Motor learning and performance
      1. Perception and performance in expert and novice populations
    2. Movement rehabilitation

  11. Psycho-oncology
    1. The contribution of cognitive bias to psychological distress in clinical population
    2. The role of negative meta-cognitive beliefs, intolerance of uncertainty and interoceptive attention in fear of cancer recurrence
    3. Cancer survivorship and fear of cancer recurrence
    4. Doctor-patient communication and decision-making
    5. Symptom burden and its impact of cancer rehabilitation
    6. Research on the implementation of psychosocial and behavioural interventions in cancer care

  12. Bioinformatics and cancer biostatistics
    1. Big data analytics
    2. Biomarker discovery
    3. Machine learning
    4. Public health genetics and genomics

  13. Risk communication, risk perception and public health
    1. Vaccine confidence

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


Professor Wu, Tsz Kei Joseph

Cancer epidemiology, cancer screening, health economics

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 Lam, Wing Tak Wendy

Behavioural health and psycho-oncology

Dr Leung, Sze Man Kathy

Cancer epidemiology, cancer screening, health economics

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