Activity Report

Annual Report 2016



The HKU-Pasteur Research Pole (HKU-PRP) is a joint laboratory established by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and the Institut Pasteur (IP). HKU-PRP was was integrated into the School of Public Health of the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong in 2013. HKU- PRP aims to improve global health through research by confronting the challenges posed by viral infections and provide solutions to treat infectious diseases. HKU-PRP will further enhance the successful partnership between HKU and IP 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 vaccine design. HKU- PRP has been designated as one of the hubs of the Institut Pasteur International Network in recognition of its achievements and of the strategic partnership with the School of Public Health of HKU.


Our overarching goal 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 are engaged in competitive research projects on respiratory infections mosquito borne viruses (arboviruses) such as dengue and Zika. 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. With respect to arboviruses, we are now extending our investigations on the characterization of host factors that are exploited to facilitate virus replication, biogenesis, trafficking, and egress. The scientific output of HKU-PRP has been of the highest quality, with more than 20 papers published since January 2016.


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. HKU-PRP will provide students, scientists and health professionals with consistent knowledge and interdisciplinary training through its international education program. In 2016 we have continued our course series in Cell Biology and Virology. In collaboration with the School of Public health at HKU, the topic of the 2016 edition of our Public Health Workshop series at the Pasteur Institute of Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) was “Introduction to Modeling of Infectious Diseases. This is an area in which there is still a gap between countries with different resources and public health systems. We are determined to fill the need for a dedicated course that will allow a regular training of public health staff.


We have developed a strong identity to promote the 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. Thus, Sumana Sanyal has been promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor, with a joint affiliation to the School of Biomedical Sciences, with a career development award from the Croucher Foundation. Moreover, Professor James Di Santo from the Institut Pasteur has been appointed as Visiting Professor for the period 2016-8 through the “Visiting Research Professors” scheme of the University Research Committee of HKU. His appointment will stimulate research efforts and exchanges at several different levels within the LKS Faculty of Medicine. Finally, HKU and IP have signed a10-year extension of their collaborative agreement. In summary, the results obtained in 2016 are clearly in line with our strategic objective to position HKU-PRP as a cluster of excellence within the School of Public Health.

Download the Annual Report 2016