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.
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. An external review of the HKU-Pasteur was undertaken in 2021 to assess its overall performance at the mid-term of the 10-year agreement between HKU and IP (2016-2026). The review team recognized the continuing high quality and international impact of the scientific work as well as the teaching & training programs of HKU-Pasteur, which is organized around a core of Group Leaders engaged in competitive research projects aligned with the scientific priorities of HKU and IP.
In 2022 two group leaders (Tun and Valkenburg) have departed to continue their careers elsewhere, a clear indication of our role as fertile soil to further careers of young scientists. They both keep a small group at HKU-Pasteur to continue collaborative research that is supported by long-term grants.
We have recruited a new group leader, Soo-San Wong, whose laboratory is focused on understanding the determinants of robust antibody responses after respiratory virus infection and vaccination at a population as well as at the individual level. This research area is critical to our understanding of respiratory viruses’ vaccine efficacy and disease pathogenesis. It will also improve our public health policies in managing the disease burden of seasonal respiratory viruses as well as pandemic risks of emerging viruses. We have published over 50 papers in 2022, many of whom have been published in high-impact journals and have received media coverage.
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.
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.