Activity Report

Annual Report 2015

Download the Annual Report 2015


Mission.  The University of Hong Kong (HKU) and Institut Pasteur (IP) have established the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole (HKU-PRP), a laboratory integrated into the School of Public Health of HKU, with a signing ceremony on December 17, 2013.  HKU-PRP will further develop the successful partnership between HKU and IP through the recently established Pasteur Center for Global Health Research and Education (CGH), which aims to improve the health of populations worldwide, by expanding its current strength on respiratory and arboviral diseases to tackle basic cell biology and immunology processes that are relevant to the advancement of our understanding of pathogenetic mechanisms and rational vaccinedesign.  HKU-PRP has been designated as one of the hubs of the CGH in recognition of its achievements and of the strategic partnership with the Center of Influenza Research of HKU, which has developed a multi-disciplinary research program of international excellence through the integration of basic, clinical and epidemiological research spanning the animal-human interface, thereby also enhancing capacity to confront other emerging viral pathogens.

Research.  Our vision is to generate biological knowledge to better understand and treat infectious diseases by bringing together scientists with an interdisciplinary mind.  We have organized our activity around four Group Leaders who have secured several independent extramural grants to continue research on respiratory infections and the mosquito borne disease of dengue.  With respect to influenza research, we have extended our exploration of virus-host interaction and host response to viral infection by 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 First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University has led to very significant publications on avian influenza and the newly identified Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and laboratory space has been made available to HKU-PRP to further develop clinical research projects.  We are continuing our large-scale seroepidemiology studies with international collaborators on MERS-CoV and have expanded the scope of these investigations to include Ebola virus disease with the Institut Pasteur-Dakar.  With respect to dengue research, we are now extending our investigations on the characterization of host factors that are exploited in extensive remodeling of the endoplasmic reticulum to facilitate virus replication, trafficking, assembly and egress.  The scientific output of HKU-PRP has been of the highest quality, with 28 papers published since January 2015.

Teaching.  Our program of courses for postgraduate students and young scientists is drawing an increasing number of highly qualified applications from around the world, establishing a worldwide network of trainees.  As the hub of the CGH, HKU-PRP will provide students, scientists and health professionals with consistent knowledge and interdisciplinary training through its international education program.  In 2015 we have co-organized with the School of Biological Sciences at HKU the first Summer Course on Advanced Imaging, sponsored by the Croucher Foundation.  In collaboration with the Australian National University, the 2015 edition of our annual international course on epidemiology and public health at the Pasteur Institute of Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) focused on Outbreak Investigation.  The three events organized by HKU-PRP on this topic (2010 in Singapore; 2013 and 2015 in Vietnam) have been the first courses on Outbreak Investigation organized in the Pasteur Network.

Perspectives.  We have developed a strong identity to promote the health and educational agenda of HKU, IP and the Pasteur Network, through research, teaching and public health activities.  We have expanded our critical mass with the recruitment of a new Group Leader that will reinforce research on basic and applied immunology.  The interdisciplinary nature of our research and teaching will facilitate synergies with the new School of Biomedical Sciences established by HKU to integrate basic science departments.  In recognition of our achievements, HKU and IP are planning a 10-year extension of their collaborative agreement between HKU and IP.  In summary, the results obtained in 2014 are clearly in line with our strategic objectives to confront major global health challenges through an innovative model for research collaboration and position HKU-PRP as a cluster of excellence within the School of Public Health.