Research Areas

School of Public Health

How does a virus evolve and transmit in different hosts?

How do antimicrobial resistance genes in bacteria emerge and transmit in humans, animals and the environment?

Why do men have substantially shorter lives than women?

Why is it so difficult to find new ways of preventing major chronic diseases?

Why do cancer patients fail to adhere to global recommendations on physical activity and healthy diet?

What are the prevailing and emerging social and environmental determinants of mental health?

Major Research Areas

  1. Influenza, MERS 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 with a network of excellent international collaborations. Our research programme has six foci:
    1. Ecology, evolution and the origin of pandemic and zoonotic influenza, MERS coronavirus and other important emerging viruses
    2. Efficient public health interventions for the control of influenza, MERS coronavirus and other emerging viruses
    3. Development and spread of antimicrobial resistance
    4. Influenza, MERS coronavirus and other emerging virus pathogenesis
    5. Modes of influenza virus transmission and transmission dynamics
    6. Infectious disease modelling

    7. Researchers

      • Professor Bruzzone, Roberto (cell biology of host-pathogen interactions)
      • Professor Cowling, Benjamin John (epidemiology and transmission dynamics)
      • Professor Fukuda, Keiji (epidemiology and public health)
      • Professor Guan, Yi (ecology, evolution, transmission and pathogenesis)
      • Professor Leung, Gabriel Matthew (epidemiology and public health)
      • 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 Chan, Chi Wai Michael (virus-host interaction and pathogenesis)
      • Dr Grépin, Karen (policy response to control infectious disease outbreaks)
      • Dr Ip, Ka Ming Dennis (epidemiology, surveillance, and control of infectious diseases)
      • Dr Lam, Tsan Yuk Tommy (ecology, evolution, epidemiology and bioinformatics)
      • Dr Tun, Hein Min (microbiome, multi-omics and systems microbiology, AMR in One Health)
      • Dr Wu, Peng (infectious disease epidemiology and AMR)
      • Dr Yen, Hui Ling (pathogenesis and transmission)
      • Dr Zhu, Huachen Maria (ecology, evolution, pathogenesis and transmission)

  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 sixteen foci:
    1. Advanced epidemiology and statistical research methods
    2. Application of evolutionary biology to inform public health interventions
    3. Approaches to health care delivery for patients with chronic illnesses
    4. Bioinformatics and biostatistics
    5. Causes of and interventions for non-communicable diseases prevention and treatment
    6. Evaluation of population level screening policies
    7. Identification and trial of new interventions to prevent cardiovascular disease, and to promote healthy lifestyles and mental health
    8. Inter- and intra-generational effects on health
    9. Non-communicable disease impact on local and regional health service utilisation and health policy
    10. Physical activity and health
    11. Population mental health
    12. Psycho-oncology
    13. Risk communication, risk perception and public health
    14. Skill learning and expert performance
    15. Social determinants of health
    16. Tobacco, alcohol and obesity control

    17. Researchers

      • Professor Lam, Tai Hing (lifestyle and life course epidemiology, tobacco control and intervention studies)
      • Professor Leung, Gabriel Matthew (health policy, lifestyle and life course epidemiology)
      • Dr Au Yeung, Shiu Lun Ryan (lifestyle and life course epidemiology, and Mendelian randomization)
      • Dr Grépin, Karen (health services research, comparative health systems and health financing)
      • Dr Ho, Sai Yin Daniel (adolescent health)
      • Dr Johnston, Janice Mary (health services research)
      • Dr Kim, Youngwon (physical activity epidemiology and measurement)
      • Dr Kwok, Man Ki Maggie (lifestyle and lifecourse epidemiology and social epidemiology)
      • Dr Lam, Wing Tak Wendy (behavioural health and psycho-oncology)
      • Dr Liao, Qiuyan Julie (risk communication, public risk perception and behavioural decision-making)
      • Dr Ni, Yuxuan Michael (psychiatric epidemiology and social epidemiology)
      • Dr Quan, Jianchao (health economics)
      • Dr Schooling, Catherine Mary (evolution, epidemiology and chronic diseases)
      • Dr Siu, Ming Fai Parco (exercise physiology and physical activity intervention)
      • Dr Tian, Linwei (environmental epidemiology)
      • Dr Zhao, Jie Jane (lifestyle and lifecourse epidemiology and intervention)

HKU-Pasteur Research Pole

Major Research Areas

The main research area at the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole is the cell biology of viral infections to understand the molecular mechanisms governing interactions between viruses and host cells in relationship to pathogenicity and transmission. The ten major research areas include:

  • Virus-host cells interactions
  • Mapping molecular determinants that enable transmission and replication of animal influenza viruses in humans
  • Identification of molecular determinants of influenza virus pathogenesis
  • Identification of host factors contributing to virus assembly and budding
  • System biology of host responses to influenza infection
  • Innate immunity viral infection
  • Adaptive − T and B cell − immunity to influenza in humans
  • Novel vaccines and immune correlates of protection for influenza
  • Development and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
  • Microbiome in health and disease


  • Professor Bruzzone, Roberto (cell biology of host-pathogen interactions)
  • Dr Tun, Hein Min (microbiome, multi-omics and systems microbiology, AMR in One Health)

Departmental Requirements

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

Chairman of Departmental Research Postgraduate Committee

Professor B.J. Cowling
Tel: 3917 6711