HKU-Pasteur Courses’ Alumni’s Stories: Dr Wai-Lok YAU

HKU-Pasteur Courses Series has trained local students and students from abroad since 2004. This new chronicle will feature stories of interest to and about the HKU-Pasteur courses' alumni and will first focus on Wai-Lok YAU who has been recently awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Institut Pasteur.

From Hong Kong streets to Parisienne walkways In 2006, Wai-Lok was a student from the Chinese University of Hong Kong who attended the 3rd HKU-Pasteur Virology Course (10- 28 July 2006) on Antiviral Strategies. A month before, he met his future supervisor, Dr Gerald SPATH during the Pasteur lectures series of the 2nd Croucher-Pasteur Exchange Programme and joined the Parasite Virulence 5-year Group, in Institut Pasteur in Paris. He had an initial travel support from the Croucher Foundation and then also from the Institut Pasteur International Network to complete a very successful PhD thesis.

Deciphering Leishmania cyclophilins’ function His thesis work focused on the function of a protein called cyclophilin 40 in the protozoan parasite Leishmania and the importance of this protein in the virulence and differentiation process of Leishmania. Using gene knockout approach, he found that cyclophilin 40 is critical for the intracellular survival of Leishmania. He published one article entitled “Cyclosporin A treatment of Leishmania donovani reveals stage-specific functions of cyclophilins in parasite proliferation and viability” in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases in 2010 where he showed an overview of the Leishmania cyclophilin family and the inhibitory effect of cyclosporin A, the cyclophilin inhibitor, on the parasite viability linking cyclophilin to the stress response of Leishmania.

Science networking really makes a difference Wai-Lok defended his thesis on last 21st of September 2011 and was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Paris Diderot - Paris 7. More recently he has attended the 1st Scientific International Meeting of the Young Researchers from Institut Pasteur International Network.

Both HKU-Pasteur Courses Series and Croucher-Pasteur Exchange Programme provide students with an opportunity to interact with leading scientists and Wai-Lok’s career path and achievements really emphasize the significance of networking in Science.


We wish him all the best for his coming postdoctoral training in Europe!



From left to right: Gerald SPATH, Wai-Lok YAU and Roberto BRUZZONE during the 1st Scientific International Meeting of the Young Researchers from Institut Pasteur International Network