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Professor Leo Poon

Managing Director & Lead Scientist

Professor Leo Poon received his doctoral training in Sir William Dunn School of Pathology in University of Oxford (1996-1999). After his graduation, he returned to Hong Kong and worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Chinese University of Hong Kong (1999-2001). He joined the University of Hong Kong as a Research Assistant Professor in 2001. He currently serves as a Professor in the School of Public Health, HKU.

Professor Poon involves in influenza research for over 20 years. He studied the replication and transmission of this virus. He developed several molecular tests for emerging avian influenza viruses (e.g. H5N1, pandemic H1N1/2009 and H7N9). In 2009, he played an active role in the H1N1 pandemic and identified the first reassortant of pandemic H1N1/2009 virus in pigs. Currently, he focuses on researching the molecular biology and vaccinology of influenza virus.


In 2003, Professor Poon involved in the discovery of a novel coronavirus as the aetiological cause of SARS. He is one of the firsts who decoded the first SARS coronavirus sequence. These findings allowed him to develop several useful molecular tests for the diagnosis of SARS. The identification of SARS coronavirus in humans and animals also prompted him to hunt for novel viruses in wildlife and this leaded to the discovery of the first and many others coronaviruses in bats. He currently also actively involves in studies related to MERS and SARS-CoV-2.

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Professor Malik Peiris


Professor Malik Peiris, Fellow of the Royal Society, Légion d’Honneur and Silver Bauhinia Star was born in Sri Lanka and studied medicine at the University of Ceylon. This was followed by the award of a PhD at the William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, U.K., where he made significant discoveries on the mechanism of dengue virus pathogenesis.


After further work in the U.K. and Sri Lanka, he joined the University of Hong Kong in 1995 and developed a multi-disciplinary research program with strong international collaboration that made a major impact in understanding the ecology, epidemiology, pathogenesis and control of animal and human influenza and coronaviruses. In 2003, he played a key role in the identification of a novel coronavirus as the cause of SARS and in its control. He serves as Co-Director of the WHO H5 influenza reference laboratory and the WHO SARS-coronavirus-2 reference laboratory at HKU. From 2007 to 2020, he has served as the Scientific Director of the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole. Malik Peiris won the 2021 Future Science Prize in Life Sciences for the discovery of SARS-CoV-1 as the causative agent for the global SARS outbreak in 2003 and its zoonotic origin, with impact on combating Covid 19.


Professor Roberto Bruzzone


Professor Roberto Bruzzone was born in Italy and studied medicine at the University “La Sapienza” in Rome.  After postdoctoral work at the University of Geneva and Harvard Medical School, he joined in 1995 the Institut Pasteur, where he is a Professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Infection.  His research has focused for many years on the cell biology of direct cell-cell communication through connexins and their associated human diseases.  

In 2006, he moved to Hong Kong, where he is the Co-Director of the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole, with a joint appointment as Visiting Professor in the Li Ka Shi Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong. Since coming to Hong Kong his research has shifted to the investigation host-pathogen interactions. He was the Scientific Coordinator of Surveillance and Investigation of Epidemics in South East Asia (SISEA), a public health project funded by the French Development Agency in People's Republic of China, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. He was appointed to serve as Chair of the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC) at the end of 2019, after being a Member of its Executive Committee since its inception in 2012. He has been decorated as Officer of the National Order of Merit in France and Knight of the Order of Merit in Italy.


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.


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.


Professor Tommy Lam

Lead Scientist

Professor Tommy Lam, Associate Professor, received his BSc (Bioinformatics) and PhD (Molecular Virology) in The University of Hong Kong, and had postdoctoral training in Pennsylvania State University and University of Oxford. His main research interest is the evolution, epidemiology and ecology of infectious diseases.


He uses integrative genomic approach to determine the patterns, drivers and mechanisms of the emergence of pathogens at human-animal interface including influenza viruses and coronaviruses, as well as some bacterial pathogens and their antibiotic resistance emergence. His research has contributed to important understanding of the origins, evolution and transmission of newly emerging pathogens such as H7N9 influenza (Nature 2013, Nature 2015), MERS coronavirus (EID2013, Science 2016) and COVID-19 coronavirus (Nature 2020). He is also leading the development of several computational methods and tools for the genomic analysis in the research community.


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Professor Michael Chan

Lead Scientist

Professor Michael Chan, Associate Professor, received his PhD degree in Medical Science from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, followed by the post-doctoral fellowships in influenza virus and infectious diseases at the University of Hong Kong in 2004.


Professor Chan’s main research interests are the virus-host interaction and pathogenesis of influenza virus and coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) using ex vivo human respiratory explant cultures and in vitro well-differentiated human respiratory epithelial cells. Major focuses of his current work are: (1) Risk assessment of influenza virus and coronavirus using ex vivo explants and in vitro respiratory epithelial cells model. (2) Mechanism of lung injury upon severe influenza virus and coronavirus infection (3) Human nasal, nasopharyngeal, airway and distal lung organoids development and risk assessment for emerging infectious diseases (4) Role of human distal airway stem cells in respiratory epithelium regeneration upon influenza H5N1 virus, SARS-CoV-2, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV infection. (5) Role of mesenchymal stromal cells and exosomes/microvesicles in reverse influenza H5N1 associated acute lung injury (6) Novel therapeutic options for severe human influenza virus and coronavirus infection


Jessica Denecke

Chief Operating Officer

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Simon Muller

Senior Manager

Project & Public Relations 

6194 7531

Jimmy Lai

Laboratory Manager

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Christy Wong

Finance & Admin Manager

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Teddy Ng

Senior HR Executive

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Steven Lau

Accounting Officer

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Cathy Chan

Laboratory Assistant

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Liang Kui Xiong

Office Attendant

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