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Healthy Human Global Project - Hong Kong
(HHGP-Hong Kong) 

Leading the way to benchmark immune health and shape the future of precision medicine in the Greater Bay Area and beyond

The Healthy Human Global Project – Hong Kong (HHGP – Hong Kong) aims to define the boundaries of a healthy immune system and pave the way for next-generation precision medicine. Susceptibility to infections and other diseases, and their progression and severity, as well as response to medical therapies and vaccines are highly variable from one individual to another.

The HHGP – Hong Kong is a population-based study that applies a cutting-edge technological platform to provide a personalized patient-management strategy that takes into account individual genetics, previous infection history, and resident microbiota, as well as personal lifestyle and environmental factors to define immune health. Ultimately, C2i will characterize immune responses to infectious agents and their components, identify biomarkers to predict vaccine responses, and develop better formulations leveraging our novel vaccine platforms for influenza.

Establishment of a healthy reference population cohort and technological transfer of a standardized immunophenotyping platform

Assess the genetic and environmental determinants of immune response variation from the healthy donor cohort and data analysis and integration

Application of the HHGP-Hong Kong approach for management of public health challenges

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Assessing the genetic and environmental parameters determining a healthy immune system

Precision medicine is revolutionizing the healthcare industry, making it one of the most booming fields in recent years. Precision medicine goes beyond just treating diseases – it also focuses on disease prevention and early detection.

C2i’s innovative biomarker-discovery strategy strives to provide a personalized patient-management approach that takes into consideration the diversity resulting from population genetics, local endemic infections, diverse microbiota, and lifestyle and environmental factors to define immune health.

Such an integrated concept will undoubtedly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of future public health initiatives.

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C2i biobanking facilities

C2i has successfully established a healthy reference population cohort by recruiting 1,000 volunteers aged between 20 and 79. C2i has created its own biobank with a comprehensive database of the biological samples collected for the study, with a strong emphasis on personal data protection.

 

Storing valuable samples from unique cohorts and ensuring their integrity is an essential resource for successful scientific discoveries and medical breakthroughs.

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Key research staff in the team

The PI and Co-PIs are highly trained immunologists with high impact publications in recent years. A key advantage of this proposal is that it leverages a highly multi-disciplinary expertise, developed during the previous 7 years at IP, and validated through several clinical studies in viral and bacterial infection, healthy aging, auto-immunity, therapeutic and vaccination responses.

 

This solid foundation will allow us to implement an optimal HHGP-Hong Kong platform for precision medicine strategies and applications with minimal delay. 

 

Darragh Duffy (IP) is the co-coordinator (with Lluis Quintana-Murci) of the Milieu Interieur consortium and leads many of the clinical studies. 

 

James Di Santo (IP) is one of the leading scientists in the field of human innate immunity. 

 

Milena Hasan (IP) is the Senior Scientist who manages the Translational Research Platform (core platform for Milieu Interieur) which has validated a number of the assays that will be used in the HHGP-Hong Kong.  

 

Additional staff from IP (RAP, Scientific and Research Officers) will be deployed to support the project and train locally recruited personnel.  

 

Michael Y NI (HKU) is a public health physician and the Program Director for the FAMILY Cohort, a large population-based cohort study in Hong Kong. 

 

Roberto Bruzzone (HKU-PRP) studies host-pathogen interactions. 

 

Sophie A Valkenburg (HKU-PRP) is an immunologist who studies adaptive immunity in mice/humans. 

 

Hein Min Tun (HKU-PRP) is a public health veterinarian who studies the role of animal and human microbiome in health and disease.

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THE TEAM

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Professor James Di Santo

Lead Scientist

Professor James Di Santo received a combined MD/PhD from Cornell Medical College and the Sloan Kettering Institute in NYC, pursued postdoctoral training with Pr Alain Fischer (Necker Hospital, Paris) and Pr Klaus Rajewsky (Institute for Genetics, Cologne) before creating his own laboratory in 1999 at the Institut Pasteur. He currently holds the position of Professor in the Immunology Department at Institut Pasteur, Director of Research within the French Medical Research Institute (Inserm) and head the Innate Immunity Research Unit. 

 

His laboratory studies general lymphocyte biology: the main interests are in the development and function of both adaptive (T and B cell) and innate lymphoid cells (ILC, NK cells) in mice and man. The laboratory also develops and uses mouse models with a humanized immune system to probe fundamental questions in human immunology especially in relation to infectious diseases. Recently, the team has developed an integrated systems immunology approach using nasal swab samples to assess biology of an active mucosal site in healthy individuals and patients suffering from respiratory diseases. James Di Santo's projects have a clear translational aim to impact in the clinics.

Publications 
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Dr. Darragh Duffy

Lead Scientist

Dr. Darragh Duffy leads the Translational Immunology lab at the Institut Pasteur, Paris and is co-coordinator of the LabEx Milieu Interieur project. The overall goal of his research is to better understand the fundamental mechanisms behind inter-individual differences in immune responses, and apply these discoveries to relevant clinical questions.

 

To do this his team uses cellular mechanistic models, population immunology cohorts, and experimental clinical studies in infection and autoimmunity. They work closely with clinical collaborators with the goal that the research findings will help to develop new patient management strategies. For fundamental questions related to understanding immune variability they apply systems immunology approaches to diverse phenotypes and integrate with genetic and environmental factors.

Publications 
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Dr. Vincent Rouilly

Research Engineer

Dr. Vincent Rouilly is a Senior Data Scientist. He received a MSc (Signal and Image Processing from ENST Paris), and a PhD (Bioengineering from Imperial College London). He is interested in developing new methods and tools to support the collection, the integration, and the analysis of biomedical data.

 

In 2012, he joins the Milieu Intérieur project, at the Institut Pasteur in Paris to study the determinants of the variability of a healthy immune response, in a french-based cohort. Now with the Centre for Immunology & Infection, he is also contributing to the Healthy Human Global Project - Hong Kong to extend the scientific exploration on a Hong-Kong-based cohort.

Publications 
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Dr. Rex Hung

Honorary Clinical Consultant 

Dr. Rex Hung serves as Honorary Clinical Consultant since October 2023. Previously, Dr. Hung has joined C2i in July 2021 as Principal Medical Consultant leading the clinical aspects and implementation of the Heathy Human Global Project - Hong Kong.    He also serves as Honorary Assistant Professor of the School of Public Health at the University of Hong Kong.  He is both a registered pharmacist and a registered physician in Hong Kong.

 

Dr. Hung worked in the field of pharmacy benefit management in the United States after graduating from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor with Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Science and Doctor of Pharmacy in 1997 and 1999, respectively.  In Hong Kong, he had worked at the University of Hong Kong Clinical Trials Centre assisting establishment of a research pharmacy.  He subsequently obtained his medical degree from the University of Hong Kong and underwent internal medicine training at the Queen Mary Hospital acquiring the MRCP (UK) qualification in February 2015.  He was awarded a distinction by the Queen Mary University of London for the postgraduate diploma in clinical dermatology in 2020.

 

Before joining C2i, Dr .Hung worked as a private primary care practitioner in group and institution practice.  He engaged as members of medication safety committee, and drug and therapeutics committee of the respective private hospital during his service.  Given the clinical exposure in both pharmacy and medicine, Dr Hung as a clinician-scientist has a broad range of research interests from precision medicine, relationship of immunophenotyping, genetics and epigenetics to dermatological diseases, mental health/ mindfulness, artificial intelligence in health database mining and cohort linkage analysis, to application of wearable health data in health care.

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Wilson Ng

Program Manager
(Translational Research)

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Peter Chung

Assistant Clinical Data

Manager

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Anna Lee

Assistant Technical Officer

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Ashley Li

Data Analyst

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Rachel Telford

Research Assistant I

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Vera Tse

Research Assistant I

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Raina Mok

Research Assistant I

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Raven Cheng

Research Assistant I

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Theodora Luk

Research Assistant I

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Hebronson Yung

Research Assistant I

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