27 May 2021

Leo Poon: “We still have a lot to learn about vaccine”

HKU-Pasteur celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, it is the occasion to show you a little bit more about the people who make this lab a major research pole on infectious diseases, an innovative teaching center and a very special place for us all!

Today, meet Professor Leo Poon, the co-director of HKU-Pasteur Research Pole since July 2020.  Prof Poon has been actively involved in several major public health incidences caused by zoonotic coronavirus transmissions, such as SARS, MERS and COVID-19. His lab has used different approaches to understand these spill over events, and many of the assays they developed have been used in these public health crises:

“I wanted to be a scientist since I was a secondary school boy. I researched on influenza virus in my doctoral training in the UK. During this training, there was a H5N1 outbreak in my hometown, Hong Kong. That was my calling in career. I came back to Hong Kong right after my DPhil training and started to conduct influenza virus research in HKU in 2001. Then, SARS appeared in 2003. As a molecular virologist, I tried to use my expertize to identify the etiological cause of this disease. With the support from my colleagues, I managed to identify a RNA fragment of SARS-CoV. That was the starting point of my coronavirus research.

I use reverse genetic techniques to generate virus mutants for phenotypic characterizations. For example, I have been studying parameters that can allow animal influenza viral polymerase to achieve robust viral RNA synthesis in mammalian cells. Findings from these studies help to explain how a zoonotic virus can better adapt in a new host species.

One should remember that all diseases are different. In addition, all of us are different as well. I would say we still have a lot to learn about vaccine. We might have some basic ideas to explain why vaccine works, but we still do not have a full understanding on this topic. For example, although influenza vaccine has been used for decades, there are still a lot of gaps in it. It will take a long time for science to address each of these gaps. In short, our existing knowledge might allow us to develop some vaccines with a reasonable protective effect in a short time. However, they are not perfect.”

To know more about the research he conducts at HKU-Pasteur and other researchers from the Pole, browse the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole 20th Anniversary Book, 60 pages tracing back 20 years of  research, teaching, activities and more!

24 May 2021

[Webinar] From HKU-Pasteur to C2i: Confronting the challenges of infectious diseases through biomedical research for 20 years

HKU-Pasteur and the Centre for Immunology and Infection (C2i) organize a webinar as part of the 20th Anniversary celebrations, in partnership with HKSTP for their Thought-leadership Series:
From HKU-Pasteur to C2i: Confronting the challenges of infectious diseases through biomedical research for 20 years
Date:            7 June 2021 (Monday)
Time:            16:00 – 17:30 (HK Time)
Format:        Online via ZOOM
Language:    English
The Institut Pasteur and the University of Hong Kong joined forces to establish the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole in 2000 based on an innovative model of scientific collaboration. It has now become a benchmark in confronting the challenges of infectious diseases through biomedical research and teaching.
Building on that success, the two prestigious organisations opened a joint translational research venture, Centre for Immunology & Infection (C2i) contributing to Hong Kong’s transformation into an international hub of biotechnological innovation in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area.
In this webinar, principal investigators of C2i and HKU-Pasteur Research Pole will discuss their latest research development of new technological platforms for biomarker discovery and of new vaccine and therapeutic strategies. 
Topic: Confronting the challenges of infectious diseases through biomedical research for 20 years
Speaker: Prof. Roberto Bruzzone, Co-Director, HKU-Pasteur Research Pole & Centre for Immunology & Infection
Topic: From Milieu Interieur to Healthy Human Global Project in Hong Kong: Understanding healthy human diversity
Speaker: Dr Darragh Duffy, Head of Translational Immunology, the Institut Pasteur, Principal Investigator, Centre for Immunology & Infection
Topic: From HKU-Pasteur to C2i: The importance of universal vaccines and pathogenesis studies
Speaker: Dr Sophie Valkenburg, Assistant Professor and Principal Investigator, HKU-Pasteur Research Pole, Co-Investigator, Centre for Immunology & Infection
Moderator: Dr Vijay Dhanasekaran, Associate Professor and Principal Investigator, HKU-Pasteur Research Pole
This webinar is part of the HKU-Pasteur 20th Anniversary celebrations. It will kickstart the 20th Anniversary exhibition across several venues of the Hong Kong Science Park campus: 
- 8-18 June at the Atrium Link
- 19-25 June at Inno2 (2/F of the 17W Building)

12 May 2021

Hein Min TUN: “Antimicrobial resistance was often neglected, until recently when people realized its significant impacts to global societies”

HKU-Pasteur celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, it is the occasion to show you a little bit more about the people who make this lab a major research pole on infectious diseases, an innovative teaching center and a very special place for us all.

Today, meet Dr Hein Min TUN, a public health veterinarian who joined HKU-Pasteur Research Pole as a Principal Investigator in 2018. His group combines conventional microbiology and molecular biology techniques with cutting-edge sequencing technologies, as well as bioinformatics, statistical and epidemiological approaches, to study the composition, function, and dynamics of human and animal microbiomes in health and disease:

Being a veterinary public health researcher, one of my primary research programs at HKU-Pasteur aims to investigate the contribution of antibiotic use in animal agriculture to human AMR infections.

Besides, my lab uses different animal models to decipher the mechanistic roles of the gut microbiome in several human diseases, including obesity, diabetes, mental health, and respiratory viral infections.

Antimicrobial resistance was often neglected, until recently when people realized its significant impacts to global societies. The WHO’s 2015 Global Action Plan on AMR set out five strategic objectives that include strengthening knowledge through surveillance and research. The Director of the School of Public Health at HKUMed, Professor Keiji Fukuda, played a key role in this successful repositioning for global awareness of AMR issues.

By looking at multiple dimensions of the problem through the lens of One Health components, we may widen our perspectives on diseases/problems that we would not have otherwise seen. This will inform better interventions. I see the contrasts among different science disciplines as largely artificial. We all should attempt to explore how the approach of one discipline could be beneficial in another. Quite often, interdisciplinary scientific research leads to breakthroughs that have broader societal impacts.”

11 May 2021

HKU-Pasteur Research Pole Annual Report 2020

HKU-Pasteur Research Pole has just published his 2020 Activity Report, where you can find all information about the lab's publications, areas of research, courses and symposia, perspectives and more: 
If you want to learn more about the Pole's research axis, publications, and others, you can check our social media and subscribe to our newsletter

04 May 2021

20 Years, 20 Questions to HKU-Pasteur researchers from the French International School students!

It’s a wrap! Our anniversary event series in collaboration with the French International School has come to an end this Friday. Browse the videos below to learn more about the exciting research topics the students have been discussing with the researchers for the past month.

20 questions to HKU-Pasteur Researchers

In March, 9 students from the School visited the pole and interviewed Prof Leo Poon, Prof Ben Cowling, Dr Vijaykrishna Dhanasekaran, and Dr Sophie Valkenburg.

20 videos have been produced on diverse topics from the origin & evolution of viruses, the future of Covid-19 pandemic to vaccination and testing explanations. Watch them now by downloading the episodes below.

Episode 1: How do you know where viruses and pathogens come from ?

Episode 2: How do viruses evolve ?

Episode 3: How do you see the future of Covid-19 ?

Episode 4: Can an infected person be reinfected ?

Episode 5: Will there be new epidemics in the future ?

Episode 6: How to assess the spread of a virus ?

Episode 7: How do the different types of vaccines work ?

Episode 8: How can we be sure of the efficiency and safety of a vaccine ?

Episode 9: How do the tests work ?

Episode 10: Are current tests and vaccines effective on variants ? 

Episode 11: What are the side effects of vaccines ?

Episode 12: Will the vaccine stop the spread of the epidemic ?

Episode 13: How do you explain the reluctance of part of the population to be vaccinated ?

Episode 14: How does scientific research advise public health policies ?

Episode 15: What are the objectives of public health policies in Hong Kong ?

Episode 16: Are masks effective ?

Episode 17: How does society react to health constraints ?

Episode 18: Different strategies against the epidemic: the case of Sweden, India and Hong Kong

Episode 19: How to ensure universal access to the vaccine ?

Episode 20: How is the international scientific research organised ?


Covid-19 Info/Intox with Dr Vijay Dhanasekaran

In mid-April, Dr Vijaykrishna Dhanasekaran had two discussions with two groups of 15 students at the School about the accuracy of Covid-19 and other scientific facts in the news and movies.

(Re)Watch the live session here!


HKU-Pasteur Research Pole x French International School Live Show

On Friday April 30th , a live roundtable featuring Prof Ben Cowling and Dr Sophie Valkenburg, animated by students, focused on the importance of scientific research in the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact on our daily lives.

(Re)Watch the live session here!


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