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 Ali, Sheikh Taslim

Infectious disease epidemiology, transmission dynamics, and outbreak control

Professor Bruzzone, Roberto

Cell biology of host-pathogen interactions

Professor Chan, Chi Wai Michael

Virus-host interaction and pathogenesis

Professor Cowling, Benjamin John

Epidemiology and transmission dynamics

Professor Dhanasekaran, Vijaykrishna Ecology, evolution, epidemiology and microbial genomics

Professor Grépin, Karen Policy response to control infectious disease outbreaks
Professor Guan, Yi

Ecology, evolution, transmission and pathogenesis

Professor Hui, Pui Yan Kenrie

Risk assessment, pathogenesis and novel therapeutics

Professor Ip, Kai Ming Dennis

Epidemiology, surveillance, and control of infectious diseases

Professor Lam, Tsan Yuk Tommy

Ecology, evolution, epidemiology and bioinformatics

Professor Leung, Hiu Lan Nancy

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

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

Health policy, economics and health care services

Professor Tsang, Kam Lun Tim

Biostatistics, infectious disease epidemiology and modeling

Professor Wong, Sook San

Population immunity and humoral immunity to respiratory viruses

Professor Wu, Peng

Infectious disease epidemiology and AMR

Professor Wu, Tsz Kei Joseph

Epidemiology, modelling and transmission dynamics

Professor Yen, Hui Ling

Pathogenesis and transmission

Professor Zanin, Mark

Influenza pathogenesis, transmission and novel therapeutics

Professor Zhu, Huachen Maria

Ecology, evolution, pathogenesis and transmission