Activity Report

Annual Report 2011

Download the Annual Report 2011

Executive Summary

HKU-Pasteur Research Centre (HKU-PRC) is a joint partnership between The University of Hong Kong (HKU) and Institut Pasteur (IP), which has been established with the aim to develop a program of excellence in the study of infectious diseases. Research Programs developed by HKU-PRC are dealing with infectious diseases that may have devastating effect on public health and the economy of the community. HKU-PRC fosters an interdisciplinary approach to generate information on fundamental processes of infectious diseases that may be translated into clinical applications.

Research. The scientific output of HKU-PRC has been of the highest quality, with more than 20 manuscripts, including several high-impact papers published in Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, etc. We have secured several independent extramural grants to continue our research focus on respiratory infections and the mosquito borne disease of dengue. With respect to influenza research, we have shown that an exquisite balance between hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, the two main structural proteins of the viral envelope, play a critical role in acquisition of efficient and sustained human-to-human transmissibility. With respect to dengue research, we have identified novel cellular factors that are necessary in assisting the release of progeny viruses from infected cells. In addition, HKU-PRC is an integral part of the Area of Excellence on Influenza, which is coordinated by Professor Peiris, and Professor Bruzzone has been the Scientific Coordinator of the RESPARI/SISEA projects of the International Network of Pasteur Institutes, which were completed in 2011.

Teaching. Our program of courses for postgraduate students and young scientists has become a reference beyond the Asia region, drawing an increasing number of highly qualified applications from around the world. We offer courses that are very competitive and of the highest quality, comparable to established benchmarks such as EMBO and Cold Spring Harbor courses. Our educational programs have established a wide network of trainees across Asia and beyond, who seek our mentorship well after the course. Some of the best students of these courses have joined HKU-PRC or Institut Pasteur for their PhD studies.

Perspectives. HKU-PRC has developed a strong identity that is contributing to promote the presence and image of HKU, as well as of IP and its international network, in the region through research, teaching and public health activities. In order to ensure a long-term continuation of this successful partnership HKU-Pasteur Research Centre Limited will be transformed into the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole (HKU-PRP), a laboratory integrated into the new Center of Influenza Research (CIR) of the School of Public Health in the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine. HKU-PRP will continue its focus on the Cell Biology of Infections and will expand its current strength on respiratory diseases by developing programs that will tackle neglected tropical diseases, such as arboviroses, as well as basic cell biology that is relevant to the advancement of our understanding of pathogenetic mechanism. HKU-PRP will strengthen its position as a regional reference for postgraduate training and will be firmly engaged also in undergraduate training to contribute to the development of the new Bachelor in Biomedical Sciences launched in 2012.

In summary, the results obtained in 2011 are clearly in line with our strategic objectives and represent a solid foundation to develop the new HKU-Pasteur Research Pole as a cluster of excellence based on Young Group Leaders, fostering research and teaching.