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Centre for Immunology & Infection

Addressing Public Health Issues Posed by Emerging Infectious Diseases

The rise of infectious diseases poses a significant threat to human health and public health systems globally. With the objective of deepening the understanding of human response to viruses and diseases, the Centre for Immunology & Infection (C2i) will contribute to establishing Hong Kong as a global centre of excellence for precision medicine tailored to population strategies and formulate innovative solutions for public health challenges with special attention to emerging infectious diseases.

A major focus of C2i is to apply a new technology platform established by the Institut Pasteur to develop an Immune Report Card for individuals, which will help define the health of one’ s immune system — the first line defence mechanism against diseases. The work will take into consideration individual genetics, previous infection histories, resident microbiota, as well as personal lifestyle and environmental factors to come up with personalised patient management strategies and improve the effectiveness of future public health initiatives.

C2i will carry out four major programmes that target current and emerging public health challenges:

  • The Healthy Human Global Project – Hong Kong: a translational research programme to redefine the boundaries of immune responses to infectious agents in a healthy Asian community with the development of an Immune Report Card for individuals, which has the potential to accelerate development of effective vaccines.
  • Development of novel vaccine platforms for influenza: C2i aims to overcome the limitations of existing commercial vaccines to confront seasonal influenza outbreaks and pandemics.
  • Mosquito borne viruses: Epidemiology, pathogenesis and interventions: The programme investigates mosquito borne virus threats, spanning across field research, epidemiology, transmissibility, public health capacity and basic research on virus pathogenesis.
  • Platform technologies for responding to lethal respiratory virus infections: C2i aims to study the pathogenesis of acute lung injury and improve its treatment with physiologically relevant disease platforms to screen new therapies for acute lung injury.

These programmes will be able to exploit information on the heterogeneity of host responses defined in the Healthy Human Global Project that will generate evidence-based interventions for public health control and improved patient care. C2i will leverage existing collaboration of its parent institutions in the Greater Bay Area to gain access to research related to zoonotic viruses and emerging respiratory viruses.