Sophie Valkenburg

“If we understand how strong and long lasting our immune response is as a result of infection and vaccination, we can then design vaccine programs that use boosters or give life-long immunity”


HKU-Pasteur celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, it is the occasion to show you a little bit more about the people who make this lab a major research pole on infectious diseases, an innovative teaching center and a very special place for us all.


Today, meet Dr Sophie Valkenburg, Principal Investigator at HKU-Pasteur Research Pole, specialized in the study of adaptive immune response to influenza infection and other viruses:


"I never set out to be a ‘scientist’ but always followed my interest, and I have been lucky with opportunities along the way. As a woman in science I was lucky to have mentors and leaders who are working mothers and strong women and it was inspiring to have them early in my studies, something I hope I can show the students and researchers around me too.


My group mostly looks at vaccine responses, and how people who have recovered from infection look in comparison to vaccine responses. We need to identify and enumerate the responses that protect individuals from infection and which vaccines give these types of responses. This work can be used to make better vaccines in the future and determine who might be infected in the future.


The influenza virus can mutate and change, and drugs lose their action and vaccines become outdated. So we need better vaccines and drugs that can cope with these changes. For SARS-CoV-2, a lot of quick research results have leveraged existing infrastructure for patient samples, animal models, and epidemiology that were developed to study viruses like influenza, MERS and SARS-CoV.


If we understand how strong and long lasting our immune response is as a result of infection and vaccination, we can then design vaccine programs that use boosters or give life-long immunity.”





To know more about the research she conducts at HKU-Pasteur and other researchers from the Pole, browse the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole 20th Anniversary Book, 60 pages tracing back 20 years of research, teaching, activities and more!