Apr 08, 2021 08:17 PM

Two Hong Kong Scholars Receive Prestigious Award for Work on Avian Flu and SARS

What’s new: Two scholars from the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong (HKUMed) have been awarded the 2021 John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award for significant contributions to global health research, the first HKUMed laureates to receive the prestigious Gairdner Foundation award.

The scholars, professors Guan Yi and Joseph Sriyal Malik Peiris, made significant contributions to public understanding of newly emergent infectious disease outbreaks in Asia, including H5N1 avian flu and SARS, which infected thousands and claimed hundreds of lives in 2003, according to a report by the World Health Organization.

Guan and Peiris’ investigations into the emergence and evolution of H5N1 and their role in “identifying the SARS coronavirus, mode of transmission… and identifying the original animal source were critical in the successful response to the outbreak,” according to a press release issued on the website of the global award.

The background: The John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award, now in its eighth year, recognizes top scientists working in global health research for outstanding achievements.

Before the two laureates, another professor from the University of Hong Kong (HKU), Tsui Lap-chee, former president and vice-chancellor of the HKU, received the international award in 1990 for his contribution to the identification of the gene for cystic fibrosis.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use.

Contact reporter Wang Xintong ( and editor Heather Mowbray (

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