School of Public Health
Why do influenza epidemics occur every year?
How does a virus evolve in different hosts?
How can we determine the cost-effectiveness of interventions against different infectious diseases?
Does muscle building protect you against diabetes?

Major Research Areas

(1) Influenza and other infections of public health significance:

Hong Kong, a densely populated city, is an epicentre for pandemic influenza emergence. 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. Our integrated multidisciplinary research programme includes internationally recognised expertise supported by the best laboratory, and field resources. Our research programme has four foci:

  • Ecology and the origin of pandemic and zoonotic influenza and other important emerging viruses:
    • Ecological factors favouring interspecies transmission and the drivers of the emergence of pandemic influenza and other emerging viruses.
    • Conduct animal influenza (e.g. H5N1 and H7N9) and other emerging virus surveillance to understand virus evolution and zoontoic events.
    • Integrate viral genetic information with viral functionality to identify critical molecular signatures to facilitate identification of field isolates.

  • Efficient public health interventions for the control of influenza and other emerging viruses:
    • Transmission control within communities.
    • Interventions to control influenza epidemics.
    • Epidemiology and control of influenza viruses.
    • Novel “universal” vaccine strategies for influenza.

  • Influenza 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.

  • Modes of influenza virus 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 influenza transmission dynamics.


  • Professor Leung, Gabriel Matthew (epidemiology and public health)
  • Professor Peiris, Joseph Sriyal Malik (pathogenesis, immunity, transmission, ecology and epidemiology)
  • Professor Bruzzone, Roberto (cell biology of host-pathogen interactions)
  • Professor Fielding, Richard (risk perception and behavioural health)
  • Professor Guan, Yi (ecology, evolution, transmission and pathogenesis)
  • Professor Cowling, Benjamin John (epidemiology and transmission dynamics)
  • Dr Chan, Chi Wai Michael (virus-host interaction and pathogenesis)
  • Dr Lau, Ho Yin Eric (epidemiology and surveillance)
  • Dr Poon, Lit Man Leo (virology, pathogenesis and diagnostics)
  • Dr Tam, Yat Hung (infectious disease epidemiology)
  • Dr Wu, Tsz Kei Joseph (epidemiology, modelling and transmission dynamics)
  • Dr Yen, Hui Ling (pathogenesis and transmission)
  • Dr Zhu, Huachen Maria (ecology, evolution and pathogenesis)

(2) 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 received wisdom about traditional cardiovascular and diabetes disease risk factors. Hong Kong is a sentinel for other South East Asian populations currently experiencing rapid economic development and globalisation. Our research programme has eight foci:

  • 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).

  • Causes of and interventions for non-communicable diseases prevention and treatment:
    • Childhood experiences, growth patterns, body composition.
    • Family dynamics, and lifestyle choices.
    •  Air pollution and climate change.
    •  The microbiome.
    • Social disparities.
    •  Smoking, alcohol and nutrition.

  • Evaluation of population level screening policies:
    • Cost effectiveness of cancer screening programmes.
    • Cost effectiveness of vaccine programmes.

  • Incidence, prevalence and identification of risk factors for non-communicable diseases:
    • The role of hormones.
    • Population risk perception.
    • Health behaviours.
    • Socio-economic patterning of non-communicable diseases in South East Asian populations.
    • Drivers of long-term trends.

  • 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.

  • Physical activity and health
    • Exercise physiology including respiratory control.
      1. Performance assessment and measurement.
      2. Physical activity and exercise in special populations.
    • Sport, excerise and health psychology.
    • Physiological response to exercise and inactivity

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

  • Psycho-oncology:
    • Health behaviours and the impact of response, adaption and coping strategies.
    • Predictors of psycho-social adjustment.
    • Doctor-patient communication and decision-making.


  • Professor Leung, Gabriel Matthew (health policy, lifestyle and lifecourse epidemiology)
  • Professor Lam, Tai Hing (lifestyle and lifecourse epidemiology and tobacco control)
  • Professor Fielding, Richard (behavioural health and psycho-oncology)
  • Dr Chan, King Chung Derwin (health, sport and exercise psychology)
  • Dr Fong, Siu Ming Shirley (exercise and health in special populations)
  • Dr Ho, Sai Yin Daniel (adolescent health)
  • Dr Johnston, Janice Mary (health services research)
  • Dr Lam, Wing Tak Wendy (behavioural health and psycho-oncology)
  • Dr Leung, Yue Yan June (lifestyle and lifecourse epidemiology)
  • Dr Macfarlane, Duncan James (exercise physiology and measurement)
  • Dr Ni, Yuxuan Michael (lifestyle and lifecourse epidemiology and psychiatric epidemiology)
  • Dr Pang, Hei Man Herbert (bioinformatics and cancer biostatistics)
  • Dr Schooling, Catherine Mary (lifestyle and lifecourse epidemiology)
  • Dr Tian, Linwei (environmental epidemiology)
  • Dr Wong, Wai Lung Thomson (motor learning in special populations)

Departmental Requirements

  1. Four to eight postgraduate courses as specified by the Departmental Research Postgraduate Committee.
  2. Bi-annual seminar presentation on research progress.
  3. Bi-annual written progress reports.
  4. Active participation in the weekly journal club and annual scientific retreat.
  5. Regular attendance at research seminars and active participation in extra-departmental courses, workshops, symposia and conferences.

Departmental Postgraduate Admission Advisor
Dr J.M. Johnston
Tel:3917 9108 
Fax:2855 9528

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