POON Lit Man Leo, Co-Director

BSc(HKBU), MPhil(CUHK), DPhil(Oxon), FFPH (UK)

Professor and Division Head
Division of Public Health Laboratory Sciences
Contact Information
Tel: 3917 9943
Professor Leo Poon received his doctoral training in Sir William Dunn School of Pathology in University of Oxford (1996-1999). After his graduation, he returned to Hong Kong and worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Chinese University of Hong Kong (1999-2001). He joined the University of Hong Kong as a Research Assistant Professor in 2001. He currently serves as a Professor in the School of Public Health, HKU.
Professor Poon has strong interests that are related to emerging viruses, ranging from studying basic biology of RNA viruses to developing molecular diagnostic tools for infectious diseases. His work primarily focuses on influenza virus and coronavirus. He published over 200 peer-reviewed articles. He was awarded a Senior Research Fellowship by the Croucher Foundation in 2017. He has been ranked in the top 1% of the world’s most-cited scientists each year since 2005 by Clarivate Analytics (Total number of citations: 18923; H-index: 65) and, an even more prestigious honour, as a Highly Cited Researcher from 2015-2019.
Professor Poon involves in influenza research for over 20 years. He studied the replication and transmission of this virus. He developed several molecular tests for emerging avian influenza viruses (e.g. H5N1, pandemic H1N1/2009 and H7N9). In 2009, he played an active role in the H1N1 pandemic and identified the first reassortant of pandemic H1N1/2009 virus in pigs. Currently, he focuses on researching the molecular biology and vaccinology of influenza virus.
In 2003, Professor Poon involved in the discovery of a novel coronavirus as the aetiological cause of SARS. He is one of the firsts who decoded the first SARS coronavirus sequence. These findings allowed him to develop several useful molecular tests for the diagnosis of SARS. The identification of SARS coronavirus in humans and animals also prompted him to hunt for novel viruses in wildlife and this leaded to the discovery of the first and many others coronaviruses in bats. He currently also actively involves in studies related to MERS and SARS-CoV-2.
Professor Poon serves as an expert for several international organisations. He is a committee member in the Coronavirus Study Group under the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (since 2006) and he is also an expert in various WHO Working Groups for emerging viruses. He previously served as an ad hoc consultant for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and for the World Organization for Animal Health for MERS surveillances. He is an editor Virus Evolution (2014-now).
Professor Poon was appointed as Co-Director of the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole in 2020.
Selected Publications  (Pub Med Search)
  1. Poon LL, Song T, Rosenfeld R, Lin X, Rogers MB, Zhou B, Sebra R, Halpin RA, Guan Y, Twaddle A, DePasse JV, Stockwell TB, Wentworth DE, Holmes EC, Greenbaum B, Peiris JS, Cowling BJ, Ghedin E. 2016. Quantifying influenza virus diversity and transmission in humans. Nat Genet. 48:195-200. [2018 IF = 25.455] (Ranked 2 out of 173 under the category of “Genetics & Heredity”) (Citation: 76)
  2. Al Hammadi ZM, Chu DK, Eltahir YM, Al Hosani F, Al Mulla M, Tarnini W, Hall AJ, Perera RA, Abdelkhalek MM, Peiris JS, Al Muhairi SS, Poon LL. 2015. Asymptomatic MERS-CoV infection in humans possibly linked to infected dromedaries imported from Oman to United Arab Emirates, May 2015. Emerg Infect Dis. 21:2197-200. [2018 IF = 7.185] (Ranked 5 out of 89 under the category of “Infectious Diseases”) (Citation: 29)
  3. Valkenburg SA, Li OT, Mak PW, Mok CK, Nicholls JM, Guan Y, Waldmann TA, PeirisJS, Perera LP, Poon LL. 2014. IL-15 adjuvanted multivalent vaccinia-based universalinfluenza vaccine requires CD4+ T cells for heterosubtypic protection. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 111:5676-81. [2018 IF = 9.58] (Ranked 7 out of 69 under the category of “Multidisciplinary Sciences”) (Citation: 27)
  4. Ekiert DC, Friesen RH, Bhabha G, Kwaks T, Jongeneelen M, Yu W, Ophorst C, Cox F, Korse HJ, Brandenburg B, Vogels R, Brakenhoff JP, Kompier R, Koldijk MH, Cornelissen LA, Poon LL, Peiris M, Koudstaal W, Wilson IA, Goudsmit J. 2011. A Highly Conserved Neutralizing Epitope on Group 2 Influenza A Viruses. Science. 333:843-50. [2018 IF = 41.037] (Ranked 2 out of 69 under the category of “Multidisciplinary Sciences”) (Citation: 514)
  5. Vijaykrishna D*, Poon LL*, Zhu HC, Ma SK, Li OTW, Cheung CL, Smith GJD, Peiris JSM, Guan Y. 2010. Reassortment of pandemic H1N1/2009 influenza A virus in swine. Science. 328:1529. [* Co-first authors] [2018 IF = 41.037] (Ranked 2 out of 69 under the category of “Multidisciplinary Sciences”) (Citation: 257)
  6. Poon LL, Chan KH, Smith GJ, Leung CS, Guan Y, Yuen KY, Peiris JS. 2009. Molecular Detection of a Novel Human Influenza (H1N1) of Pandemic Potential by Conventional and Real-Time Quantitative RT-PCR Assays. Clin Chem. 55:1555-8. [2018 IF = 6.916] (Ranked 1 out of 29 under the category of “MMedical Laboratory Technology”) (Citation: 94)
  7. Poon LL, Wong BW, Ma EH, Chan KH, Chow LM, Abeyewickreme W, Tangpukdee N, Yuen KY, Guan Y, Looareesuwan S, and Peiris JS. 2006. A sensitive and inexpensive molecular test for falciparum malaria: detecting Plasmodium falciparum DNA directly from heat-treated blood by loop-mediated isothermal amplification. Clin Chem. 52:303-6. [2018 IF = 6.916] (Ranked 1 out of 29 under the category of “Medical Laboratory Technology”) (Citation: 306)
  8. Poon LL, Chu DK, Chan KH, Wong OK, Ellis TM, Leung YH, Lau SK, Woo PC, Suen KY, Yuen KY, Guan Y, Peiris JS. 2005. Identification of a novel coronavirus in bats. J Virol. 79:2001-2009. [2018 IF = 4.324] (Ranked 8 out of 36 under the category of “Virology”) (Citation: 201)
  9. Guan Y, Zheng BJ, He YQ, Liu XL, Zhuang ZX, Cheung CL, Luo SW, Li PH, Zhang LJ, Guan YL, Butt KM, Wong KL, Chan KW, Lim W, Shortridge KF, Yuen KY, Peiris JS, Poon LL. 2003. Isolation and characterization of viruses related to the SARS coronavirus from animals in southern China. Science. 302:276-278. [2018 IF = 41.037] (Ranked 2 out of 69 under the category of “Multidisciplinary Sciences”) (Citation: 902)
  10. Peiris JS, Lai ST, Poon LL, Guan Y, Yam LYC, Lim W, et al. 2003. Coronavirus as a possible cause of severe acute respiratory syndrome. Lancet. 361(9366):1319-1325. [2018 IF = 59.102] (Ranked 2 out of 160 under the category of “Medicine, General & Internal”) (Citation: 1675)