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 viral infections by developing research and education programs that willcontribute to providing solutions 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 scientific priorities of HKU and IP, namely on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases (respiratory and mosquito-borne viruses) antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and, with the recruitment of a new Group Leader, computational approaches to investigate diversity and evolution of pathogens.  

 

The pandemic caused by the new SARS-CoV-2 led all groups to re-orient their research priorities, producing an impressive research output in collaboration with the School of Public Health and and other laboratories worldwide.  HKU-Pasteur has been involved in validating methods for detecting the virus and monitoring antibody responses.  

 

These methods have been shared with over 100 laboratories around the world at no cost and without any restrictions due to intellectual property.  We have contributed to filling knowledge gaps on the biology of SARS-CoV-2 by producing data on the stability of the virus in the environment, developing experimental animal models, and probing the systems biology of the host response to this novel pathogen.  

 

In collaboration with the Department of Engineering at HKU, we have been able to demonstrate that surveillance of sewage waters with sensitive molecular tests could provide early warning of COVID-19 outbreaks, reflecting the overall spread of virus in the community. HKU-PRP has published over 50 papers since January 2020.

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.  All courses were cancelled in 2020 owing to the coronavirus pandemic.  

 

They will resume when travel restrictions are lifted.  The Institut Pasteur and the Pasteur International Network association (PINA) have launched the official Pasteur International Courses “PIC” label for the Institut Pasteur International Network’s (IPIN) training programmes, workshops and Massive Open On-Line Courses (MOOCs).  We have submitted applications to obtain the PIC label for all our programs.  

 

The new PIC Labelling Programme will ensure that, in an increasingly competitive environment, the “Institut Pasteur” excellence will be recognised 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.  Malik Peiris has retired as Co-Director after 14 years to become the Managing Director of 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.  Leo Poon, Professor in the School of Public Health at HKU has been appointed as the new Co-Director.  

Sumana Sanyal has been appointed as Associate Professor at the University of Oxford and left HKU-Pasteur, all the while ongoing projects and extramural grants are being completed.  We have recruited a new Group Leader in 2020, to spearhead computational biology research programs.  We have been awarded to establish the.  In summary, the results obtained in 2020 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.

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