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Professor Yu-Lung Lau

Paediatrician

Contributions to Rare Diseases and Paediatric Vaccine Development

The innocence of children always touches the adults and reminds us that people are good in nature. However the devil of diseases is our old enemy who always threatens children without enough strength to protect themselves. Professor Yu-lung Lau, Chair Professor of Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine of The University of Hong Kong, dedicates himself to practising clinical services and research in paediatric immunology and infectious diseases. Leveraging his rich experience and strong insight in medicine, recently he successfully discovered at the HKU Shenzhen Hospital a novel immunological disorder, and that caught much positive attention from the medical profession.

In love with Scientific Research since School Days

Because of a doctor’s encouragement, Professor Lau strived to join the medical profession whilst he was a youth. When he came to the time of specialization, he chose paediatrics. The reason for this cannot be simpler: “I just love kids so much.” Professor Lau’s passion to medical research revealed as early as during his medical training in the UK. He recalled those days and nights of experiments and data processing, through which precious data was collected to support subsequent genetic and immunology research. The value of those early works was enormous.

Benefiting Children through Vaccine Development

In addition to his busy clinical duties, Professor Lau is also engaged in research, teaching and administration, as well as the management of The University of Hong Kong Clinical Trials Centre (HKU-CTC). A representative case, among all the others, is a clinical trial of a rotavirus vaccine under which the vaccine’s efficacy was proven. The highly infectious rotavirus is a common cause of diarrhea in infants and young children, and caused more than 450,000 deaths globally for infants and young children under the age of five. In that pivotal trial, Professor Lau and his research team successfully recruited over 1,800 infants into a rotavirus vaccination trial. Professor Lau explained that collaboration among hospitals was only one of the challenges, and the biggest difficulty was to win parents’ trust and consent to allow their babies to join the trial. Considering that most people had little knowledge in clinical trials, the potential risk and benefits of vaccination and also the procedures and details of the trial were clearly explained to the parents – in order to make sure that they have full understanding at the time of decision-making. After the trial began, positive feedback started to spread around. With the added support by the safety data collected in early phase trials, more parents were willing to enroll their babies into the trial. 

Passion to Help People through Research

Professor Lau is a humble man, though his eyes sparkled when he was asked about his research work. “Medical research lets both the medical profession and the general public know more about diseases. We are still looking for more breakthroughs, especially in rare immunological disorders. Only through clinical trials, new drugs and medical devices can be developed and more patients can be benefited. The findings from research may also help cure incurable diseases and benefit patients around the world.” On the way forward, Professor Lau wishes paediatric phase 1 clinical trials can be carried out with the help of HKU-CTC.

After the interview, Professor Lau immediately returned to his busy work. We trust his dedication to medicine together with the increasing outcomes from his research will bring smiles from more children, and his students will follow his path in the medical profession – and love children with the heart of a child.