Research

Researches

Sophie VALKENBURG Lab

Sophie Alessandra VALKENBURG, BioMedSci, BSci(Hons), PhD

Research Assistant Professor
Division of Public Health Laboratory Sciences

Contact Information
Tel: +852 2831 5501
Email: sophiev@hku.hk
Address: 7/F Hong Kong Jockey Club Building for Interdisciplinary Research, 5 Sassoon Road, Hong Kong

Main Objectives and Strategy
Sophie Valkenburg obtained her PhD from training at the University of Melbourne, Australia on CD8 T cell immunity to influenza infection with Dr Katherine Kedzierska. Dr Valkenburg joined the University of Hong Kong for her postdoctoral training with Dr Leo LM Poon to explore universal influenza vaccines. She has now established her own research team at HKU Pasteur.
 
The main objectives of the lab are to define immune correlates of protection for influenza viruses from infection and vaccination. Our research is centred on the role of protective heterologous T and B cell immunity in mouse and human systems, by investigating novel vaccines and immune correlates of protection for influenza. Our primary focus is to study adaptive immunity to influenza, and how this could be harnessed and optimized by vaccination to improve protection from diverse influenza virus infection. Hemagglutinin (HA)-specific antibodies can block influenza infection, whilst T cells recognize influenza-infected cells. A vaccine which ultimately combines antibody and T cell-based immunity for influenza will provide a full-proof immunological barrier to influenza infection, which our studies will ultimately help develop. Our major research projects, which aim to elucidate how cross-reactive T and B cell responses to influenza provide broad immunity, are listed below.
 
Positions are available for Research assistants, post graduate students and post doctoral fellow.
Contact: sophiev@hku.hk
 
 
Broadly reactive immune correlates for improved influenza vaccines [Funding: RGC/GRF; CDC; CEIRS]
  • (a) A T-cell based universal influenza vaccine 
  • (b) Single protein immune mouse serum (SPIMS):
  • (c) Enhanced inactivated influenza vaccines and repeat vaccination for older adults
 

Publications

  1. Kavian N, Hachim A, Li APY, Cohen CA, Chin AHW, Poon LLM, Fang VJ, Leung NHL, Cowling BJ, Valkenburg SA (2020) Assessment of enhanced influenza vaccination finds FluAd advantage in mice and older adults. Clin Transl Immunol 9:e1107.
  2. Cowling BJ, Perera RAPM, Valkenburg SA, Leung NHL, Iuliano AD, Tam YH, Wong JHF, Fang VJ, Li APY, So HC, Ip DKM, Azziz-Baumgartner E, Fry AM, Levine MZ, Gangappa S, Sambhara S, Barr IG, Skowronski DM, Peiris JSM, Thompson MG (2020) Comparative immunogenicity of several enhanced influenza vaccine options for older adults: A randomized, controlled trial.  Clin Infect Dis doi: 10.1093/cid/ciz1034. PMID: 31828291.
  3. Valkenburg SA, Cowling BJ (2020) Turning influenza vaccinology on its head to reveal the stalk.  Lancet Infect Dis 20:5-7.
  4. Valkenburg SA, Fang VJ, Leung NH, Chu DK, Ip DK, Perera RA, Wang Y, Li AP, Peiris JM, Cowling BJ, Poon LLM (2019) Cross-reactive antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity antibodies are increased by recent infection in a household study of influenza transmission.  Clin Transl Immunol 8:e1092.
  5. Clemens EB, van de Sandt C, Wong SS, Wakim LM, Valkenburg SA (2018) Harnessing the power of T cells: The promising hope for a universal influenza vaccine.  Vaccines (Basel) 6:pii:E18.
  6. Valkenburg SA, Leung NHL, Bull MB, Yan LM, Li APY, Poon LLM, Cowling BJ (2018) The Hurdles From Bench to Bedside in the Realization and Implementation of a Universal Influenza Vaccine.  Front Immunol 9:1479.
  7. Valkenburg SA, Li OTW, Li A, Bull M, Waldmann TA, Perera LP, Peiris M, Poon LLM (2018) Protection by universal influenza vaccine is mediated by memory CD4 T cells.  Vaccine 36:4198-4206.
  8. Chan MC, Kuok DI, Leung CY, Hui KP, Valkenburg SA, Lau EH, Nicholls JM, Fang X, Guan Y, Lee JW, Chan RW, Webster RG, Matthay MA, Peiris JS (2016) Human mesenchymal stromal cells reduce influenza A H5N1-associated acute lung injury in vitro and in vivo.  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 113:3621-3626.
  9. Valkenburg SA, Mallajosyula VV, Li OT, Chin AW, Carnell G, Temperton N, Varadarajan R, Poon LL (2016) Stalking influenza by vaccination with pre-fusion headless HA mini-stem.  Sci Rep 6:22666.
  10. Valkenburg SA, Zhang Y, Chan KY, Leung K, Wu JT, Poon LL (2016) Preexisting antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity-activating antibody responses are stable longitudinally and cross-reactive responses are not boosted by recent influenza exposure.  J Infect Dis 214:1159-1163. 
Teaching
1. Sophie Valkenburg (2019) “Biological Basis of Disease” (Master of Public Health, CMED-6227), School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR (Course Director and Lecturer).
2. Sophie Valkenburg (2019) Health Research Project, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR (Tutor).
 
Collaborations
  • Benjamin Cowling (School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR): Determining the correlation between baseline T cell responses and protection from transmission in a household transmission setting; Longitudinal impact of repeat vaccination in the Hong Kong Elderly.
  • Leo LM Poon (School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR): Broadly reactive influenza vaccines in mouse models.
  • Ragahavan Varadarajan (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India): Characterization of a headless-trimeric pre-fusion conformation HA recombinant protein vaccine in a mouse model to generate broadly reactive HA-stem antibodies.
Funding
  • Control of influenza: individual and population immunity (Co-investigator; Research Grants Council/Theme based Research Scheme).
  • Research on the epidemiology, vaccine effectiveness and treatment of influenza and other respiratory viruses in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific (Co-Investigator; US Center for Disease Control).
  • Repeated elderly influenza vaccination and underlying factors contributing to antibody quality and cellular immunity (Co-Investigator; CEIRS NIH).
  • Influenza viruses adapt to escape T cell responses (Principal Investigator; Research Grants Council/General Research Fund).

Lab

  • Sophie VALKENBURG DOAK Research Assistant Professor
  • Niloufar KAVIAN research fellow
  • Athena LI PhD student
  • Maireid BULL PhD student
  • Carolyn COHEN PhD student
  • Fionn MA, Research Assistant
  • Asmaa HACHIM Research Assistant
  • Glenn Hao LI, Research Assistant
  • Matthew WONG, Student Intern (HKU)