Activity Report

Annual Report 2019


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The HKU-Pasteur Research Pole (HKU-PRP) is a joint laboratory, established by The University of Hong Kong (HKU) and the Institut Pasteur (IP), under the School of Public Health (SPH) of the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong. HKU-PRP aims to confront the challenges posed by viral infections by developing research and education programs that will contribute to providing solutions to mitigate the impact of infectious diseases.
We have organized our activity around Group Leaders who are engaged in competitive research projects aligned with scientific priorities of HKU and IP, namely on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases (respiratory and mosquito-borne viruses) and, with the recruitment of a new Group Leader, antimicrobial resistance (AMR). With respect to influenza research, we are combining clinical studies and basic research investigations to gain insight into the mechanistic aspects of disease pathogenesis and adaptive immunity for improved protection.
Collaboration with the State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Disease of the Guangzhou Medical University, where laboratory space has been made available to HKU-PRP, has also been expanded with the signing of a cooperation project in the framework of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. We are studying both the innate and adaptive immune response to viral infection with a broad objective to investigate the underlining mechanisms relevant to disease pathogenesis and how this could be harnessed and optimized by vaccination to improve protection from diverse influenza virus infection.
With respect to arboviruses, we have designed a functional screening strategy to identify novel host factors, which are co-opted by the virus to facilitate its replication, biogenesis, trafficking, and egress. This approach offers novel thrapeutic possibilities by interfering with hosy factors, instead of viral components, as treatment targets. With respect to AMR, we use conventional microbiology and molecular biology techniques, cutting-edge sequencing technologies, coupled with bioinformatics, statistical and epidemiological approaches to study human and animal microbiomes and monitor AMR bacteria and resistome with a holistic One Health approach. HKU-PRP has published over 20 papers since January 2019.
Our annual courses draw an increasing number of applications from around the world and have generated a worldwide network of talented trainees. We have completed the Croucher Summer Course in Advanced Imaging with the third and final installment on “Deep Learning in Imaging & Cell Biology”. The 15th HKU-Pasteur Virology Course focused on coronavirus biology, a choice of topic that has proven prescient in view of the current outbreak of the new coronavirus. The 9th HKU-Pasteur Cell Biology Course explored proteomics based approaches to probe the cell biology underlying human diseases with an overview of methods spanning conventional to more advanced strategies. The 2019 edition of our Public Health Workshop series at the Pasteur Institute of Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), which was supported by the French Regional Scientific Cooperation, discussed the current situation of the measles and rubella eradication program, and the implementation of the proposed Operational Targets set by WHO for 2020.
We have developed a strong identity to promote the missions of HKU, IP and the Institut Pasteur International Network, through research, teaching and public health activities. We plan to recruit another Group Leader in 2020, to spearhead computational biology research programs. We have been awarded a major grant from the Innovation & Technology Commission to establish the Center for Immunology & Infection (C2I), an interdisciplinary research laboratory that will address significant public healthcare challenges through novel technology platforms for biomarker discovery and the development of new vaccine and therapeutic strategies at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks. In summary, the results obtained in 2019 are clearly in line with our strategic objective to position HKU-PRP as a cluster of excellence within the School of Public Health and one of the hubs of the Institut Pasteur International Network.