Cowling, Benjamin John

BSc (Warwick), PhD (Warwick), FFPH
Professor and Division Head
Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Contact Information
Tel: 3917 6711
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Professor Benjamin Cowling joined the School of Public Health (SPH) at HKU in 2004. Prior to moving to Hong Kong, he graduated with a PhD in medical statistics at the University of Warwick (UK) in 2003, and spent a year as a postdoc at Imperial College London (UK). Professor Cowling has been the Head of the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics since 2013. He is responsible for teaching the introductory module in epidemiology on the MPH curriculum, and is the chairman of the Departmental Research Postgraduate Committee. Prof Cowling is co-director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control at HKU SPH.

Prof Cowling’s primary research focus is in infectious disease epidemiology. In recent years he has designed and implemented large field studies of influenza transmission in the community and the effectiveness and impact of control measures, including large vaccine trials. His research aims to integrate information on transmission dynamics at the individual level with disease burden, severity and dynamics at the population level. His latest research has focused on the modes of respiratory virus transmission, influenza vaccination effectiveness, and the link between individual immunity and population immunity to infections. He has strong links with China CDC, and the NIGMS-funded Harvard Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics.

Professor Cowling is a fellow of the Royal Statistical Society and a Fellow of the UK Faculty of Public Health. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses, an Associate Editor of Emerging Infectious Diseases, a Section Editor of PLOS ONE, and a founding editor of PLOS Currents: Outbreaks.

He has 375 publications listed in Scopus, including 45 articles with 45+ citations (H-index of 45).Prof Cowling has received numerous awards including a Croucher Senior Research Fellowship (2015), HKU Outstanding Researcher Award (2017), HKU Outstanding Young Researcher Award (2011), and American Journal of Epidemiology (AJE) Article of the Year 2014.

More information

HKU Scholars Hub: Cowling, Benjamin John

Open Research and Contributor ID (ORCID): Cowling, Benjamin John


Selected Publications  (Pub Med Search)

  1. Feng S, Chiu SS, Chan ELY, Kwan MYW, Wong JSC, Leung CW, Chung Lau Y, Sullivan SG, Malik Peiris JS, Cowling BJ. Effectiveness of influenza vaccination on influenza-associated hospitalisations over time among children in Hong Kong: a test-negative case-control study. Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 2018(in press)
  2. Cowling BJ, Lim WW, Perera RAPM, Fang VJ, Leung GM, Peiris JSM, Tchetgen Tchetgen EJ. Influenza hemagglutination-inhibition antibody titer as a mediator of vaccine-induced protection for influenza B. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2018 (in press).
  3. Cowling BJ, Perera RAPM, Fang VJ, et al. Incidence of influenza virus infections in children in Hong Kong in a three year randomised placebo-controlled vaccine study, 2009-12. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2014; 59(4):517-24.[link]
  4. Cowling BJ, Jin L, Lau EH, et al. Comparative epidemiology of human infections with avian influenza A H7N9 and H5N1 viruses in China: a population-based study of laboratory-confirmed cases. Lancet, 2013; 382(9887):129-37. [link].
  5. Yu H, Cowling BJ, Feng L, et al. Human infection with avian influenza A H7N9 virus: an assessment of clinical severity. Lancet, 2013; 382(9887):138-45. [link].
  6. Cowling BJ, Ip DKM, Fang VJ, et al. Aerosol transmission is an important mode of influenza A virus spread. Nature Communications, 2013; 4:1935. [link].
  7. Cowling BJ, Ng S, Ma ESK, et al. Protective efficacy against pandemic influenza of seasonal influenza vaccination in children in Hong Kong: a randomized controlled trial. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2012; 55(5):695-702. [link].
  8. Cowling BJ, Fang VJ, Nishiura H, et al. Increased risk of non-influenza respiratory virus infections associated with receipt of inactivated influenza vaccine. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2012; 54(12):1778-83. [link].
  9. Cowling BJ, Chan KH, Fang VJ, et al. Comparative epidemiology of pandemic and seasonal influenza A in households. New England Journal of Medicine, 2010; 362:2175-84. [link].
  10. Cowling BJ, Chan KH, Fang VJ et al. Facemasks and hand hygiene to prevent influenza transmission in households: a randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2009; 151:437-46.  [link]. Joomla 3.3 Templates