Activity Report

Annual Report 2018


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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 improve global health through research and education by confronting the challenges posed by viral infections and provide solutions to treat 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, anti-microbial resistance. 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 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 for a Respiratory Diseases Research Center in the framework of the second Guangdong- Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Hygiene and Health Cooperation Conference. 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 therapeutic possibilities by interfering with hostn factors, instead of viral components, as treatment targets. HKU-PRP has published over 25 papers since January 2018. 


Our course series draw an increasing number of highly qualified applications from around the world and have generated a worldwide network of trainees. We have received a grant from the Croucher Foundation to organize a new series of courses on “Emerging Viral Infections”. We have reached another major landmark with the 10th HKU-Pasteur Immunology course, concluded by a scientific symposium reuniting some of the course alumni. In collaboration with the C3BI at the Institut Pasteur, we have held a hands-on course on Molecular Phylogenetics. The 2018 edition of our Public Health Workshop series at the Pasteur Institute of Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), which is primarly aimed at public health professionals and academics in the region, focused on viral hepatitis and was supported by the French Regional Scientific Cooperation.

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. Together with the School of Public Health, we have recruited a new Group Leader, Dr. Hein Min TUN, to develop a research program on the role of human and animal microbiome in health and diseases, including surveillance of antimicrobial resistant bacteria, at the interface of human, animals and the environment. We plan to recruit another Group Leader in 2019, to spearhead computational biology research programs. We have coordinated the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between IP, HKU and Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks to establish an interdisciplinary research centre for immunology, infection and personalized medicine. In summary, the results obtained in 2018 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.