by Kwok Yung Yuen

A famous Chinese saying is "Change is originally eternal, but all changes cannot deviate from a central principle" . This is particularly applicable to the field of emerging and reemerging infections . Influenza, tuberculosis, penicilliosis and melioidosis are diseases which are either prevalent or unique to our locality and are excellent examples illustrating this age old saying.

Southern China is one of the most densely populated area of the world where person-to-person and human to animal contacts are extremely intense. In the coming years, the competition for ecological space and the exhaustion of the environm ental resources would further aggravate. Hong Kong, being a city with relatively modern infrastructure including medical services and research capability, is an ideal place for the study of emerging and reemerging pathogenic microbes. Yersinia pestis and Influenza virus are two important historical witness to this strategy.

My area of research in infectious diseases and clinical microbiology which constitutes one of the most important aspect of healthcare will continue to pre-occupy public interest. In my 12 years service, I have been instrumental in developing this discipline in Hong Kong, expanding its scope from one which was mainly concerned with the traditional port health aspects to one which embraces all infectious diseases afflicting our society to-day. In the early stage of my endeavor, I undertook to modernize our diagnostic laboratories, initiate an infectious diseases consultation service and conduct regular training of clinical microbiologists and Infectious diseases physicians. I then capitalize on these infrastructure and personnel resources, once they are in place, and make use of them to its best advantage to advance undergraduate, postgraduate education, professional training and above all research. The impact of these combined has put Hong Kong and our University in the world map and gain for it much coveted international recognition.
The following will deal with the various impact of my effort in turn.


In my twelve years' service in the University, I have generated a total of 203 publications in journals, books, and conference proceedings. The total number of citations is 214 (Journal Citation Report 1996). The mean impact factor of these journal articles is 2.379. In the area of emerging pathogens, we are invited by the CDC as a collaborating centre for researches in a new fungal disease penicilliosis marneffei (Appendix I). We discovered the first gene encoding an immunogenic prot ein of this organism for which we have filed a patent right in the USA. We are also the first group in the world to report a clinical study in the Lancet on the emergence of bird flu H5N1 in Hong Kong in 1997.

Appendix I

Penicilliosis marneffei is an emerging infection in AIDS patients of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Together with this paper, I have generated a total of 10 publications on this topic. Our group has been able to file a patent right in the USA on a new gene that we discovered.

References in the full list of publications:
1. Lau GKK, Kumana C, Chau PY, Yuen KY, et al. Disseminated Penicillium marneffei infection responding to treatment with fluconazole. Journal of the Hong Kong Medical Association 1992;44(3):176-80.
2. Yuen KY*, Wong SS, Tsang DN, Chau PY. Serodiagnosis of Penicillium marneffei infection. Lancet 1994;344(8920):444-5.
3. Lo CY, Chan TM, Li FK, Yuen KY, Cheng IKP. Penicillium marneffei infection in a patient with systemic lupus erythematosis. Lupus 1995;4:18-20.
4. Kwan EY, Lau YL, Yuen KY, Jones BM, Low LC. Penicillium marneffei infection in a non-HIV infected child. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. 1997;33(3):267-71.
5. Cao L, Chan CM, Lee C, Wong SSY, Yuen KY. MP1 encodes an abundant and highly antigenic cell wall mannoprotein in the pathogenic fungus Penicillium marneffei. Infection and Immunity 1998;66(3):966-973.
6. Cao L, Chen DL, Lee C, Chan CM, Chan KM, Vanittanakom N, Tsang DN, Yuen KY. Detection of specific antibodies to an antigenic mannoprotein for diagnosis of Penicillium marneffei penicilliosis. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 1998;36(10):3028-3 1.
7. Wong SSY, Cao L, Yuen KY*. Management of penicilliosis marneffei. JAMA Southeast Asia 1998;14(6):7-9.
8. Peiris M, Yuen KY*, Leung CW, Chan KH, Ip PL, Lai RW, Orr WK, Shortridge KF. Human infection with influenza H9N2. Lancet 1999 Sep 11;354(9182):916-7.
9. Wong SSY, Siau H, Yuen KY*. Penicilliosis marneffei - west meets east. Journal of Medical Microbiology. 1999;48:973-975.
10. Cao L, Chan KM, Chen DL, Vanittanakom N, Lee C, Chan CM, Sirisanthana T, Tsang DNC, Yuen KY. Detection of a cell wall mannoprotein Mp1p in culture supernatant of Penicillium marneffei and in sera of penicilliosis patients. Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 1999;37:981-6.