Leo Poon

  • Senior Research Fellowship in 2017 at the The University of Hong Kong
  • Scholarship in 1996 at the University of Oxford

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 has strong interests that are related to emerging viruses, ranging from studying basic biology of RNA viruses to developing molecular diagnostic tools for infectious diseases. His work primarily focuses on influenza virus and coronavirus. He published over 180 peer-reviewed articles. He was awarded a Senior Research Fellowship by the Croucher Foundation in 2017. He has been ranked in the top 1% of the world’s most-cited scientists each year since 2005 by Clarivate Analytics (Total number of citations: 17260; H-index: 65) and, an even more prestigious honour, as a Highly Cited Researcher since 2015. 

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. 

Professor Poon serves as an expert for several international organisations. He is a committee member in the Coronavirus Study Group under the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (since 2006) and he is also an expert in the Influenza Molecular Diagnosis Working Group of the World Health Organization (since 2009). He previously served as an ad hoc consultant for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and for the World Organization for Animal Health for MERS surveillances. He is an editor Virus Evolution (2014-now). He has been named by Clarivate Analytics in the list of “Highly Cited Researchers 2018” among the world’s top researchers.

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