Research Projects
Characterizing primary and secondary vaccine failures

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☑ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

About the project

Vaccination remains the most effective public health strategy to control community transmission as well as to reduce its disease burden for agents such as influenza virus or SARS-CoV-2. However, some vaccinees may fail to mount sufficient protective antibody responses after primary or booster vaccination. Post-vaccination antibody response failures have been classified either as failure to mount antibody response within four weeks of vaccination (primary failure) or inability to sustain a post-vaccination antibody response (secondary failure). The proportion of vaccine non-responders may vary according to specific risks groups, generally increasing with age, the male sex or in those with underlying metabolic or immunologic disorders. The primary objective of this research is to characterize the phenomenon of primary and secondary vaccine failures in a population-specific manner. The goal is to be able to identify potential poor vaccine responders and understand their underlying impairments, so that specific vaccine regimens that may improve their vaccination outcome can be tailored to their needs ; i.e precision vaccination.

Professor SS Wong, School of Public Health

My laboratory’s research interest is focused on understanding the immunological and virological determinants of robust antibody responses after respiratory virus infection and vaccination at a population as well as at the individual level. In collaboration with other investigators, we study the immunological principles that govern antibody recall of rapidly evolving and antigenically-variable viruses using clinical or human cohort samples, or in animal models. This research area is critical to our understanding of respiratory viruses’ vaccine efficacy and pathogenesis and how that affects the population’s susceptibility to these viruses."

HKU Scholars Hub

For more information or to express interest for this project, please email the supervisor or the specified contact point in the project description.  Interested candidates are advised to enclose with your email:

  1. your CV,
  2. a brief description of your research interest and experience, and
  3. two reference letters (not required for HKUMed UG students seeking MRes[Med]/URIS projects).

Information on the research programme, funding support and admission documentations could be referenced online at the Research Postgraduate Admissions website. General admission enquiries should be directed to

HKUMed MBBS students interested in the Master of Research in Medicine (MRes[Med]) programme may visit the programme website for more information.  

HKUMed UG students interested in the Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme (URIS) may visit the scheme’s website for more information.