Activity Reports

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Mission

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 confront the challenges posed by microbes by developing research and education programs that willcontribute to mitigate the impact of infectious diseases.

Research

We have organized our activity around Group Leaders who are engaged in competitive research projects aligned with the scientific priorities of HKU and IP. We focus on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases (respiratory and mosquito-borne viruses) antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and computational approaches to investigate diversity and evolution of pathogens.  

 

The pandemic caused by the new SARS-CoV-2 led us to re-orient research priorities, producing an impressive research output in collaboration with the School of Public Health, the Center for Immunology & Infection and and other laboratories worldwide.  HKU-Pasteur has remained involved in sharing methods and data with laboratories worldwide.  

 

We have contributed to filling knowledge gaps on the biology of SARS-CoV-2 by producing data on sero-epidemiology, immune response in adults and children, developing experimental animal models, and probing the systems biology of the host response to this novel pathogen.

 

The demonstration that surveillance of sewage waters with sensitive molecular tests could provide early warning of COVID-19 outbreaks, in collaboration with the Department of Engineering at HKU has received the Gold Medal at the 2021 Inventions Geneva Evaluation Days.  HKU-Pasteur has published over 60 papers since January 2021.

Teaching

HKU-PRP has pioneered a unique course series in Hong Kong and in the region that provides state of the art lectures and practical workshops in a “Master class” setting to outstanding postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows coming from countries with markedly different resources.  

 

Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic led to cancellation of all courses in 2021 and 2022.  We hope that our educational program will resume, gradually, in 2023, when travel restrictions are lifted.  All our courses have obtained the Pasteur International Courses “PIC label”, which has been established to increase the visibility and branding of the educational programs of the Pasteur Network.  

 

The new PIC Labelling Program will ensure that, in an increasingly competitive environment, the “Institut Pasteur” excellence will be recognized as best-in-class for research and training, attracting students and researchers, as well as laboratory technicians and health professionals.

Perspectives

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.  We have opened the Center for Immunology & Infection (C2i), the new collaborative project of HKU and the Institut Pasteur, funded with a major grant from the Innovation & Technology Commission. 

 

This translational research laboratory will address significant public healthcare challenges through novel technology platforms for biomarker discovery and the development of new vaccine and therapeutic strategies. We have recruited a new Group Leader, who joined us at the beginning of 2022, to maintain our focus on understanding the immunological and virological determinants of antibody responses after respiratory virus infection and vaccination at a population as well as at the individual level.  

 

An external scientific review was undertaken in June 2021.  The reviewers noted that HKU-Pasteur has evolved into a world-renowned research center, exemplified by continuing high-impact scientific output, provision of highly rated international courses and acquisition of ample extramural funding over the last two decades.  Its embedment within the HKU School of Public Health in 2013 further facilitated HKU-Pasteur to be a productive regional hub for the Pasteur Network.

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