Our People

Academic Staff

Prof. Joseph Tak-fai LAU


BSSc (CUHK); MA, PhD (UC, Berkeley); FFPH(UK) 

 Emeritus Professor and Research Professor

Academic Appointments

  • Director, Community Research Program on AIDS

  • Director, Centre for Medical Anthropology and Behavioral Health, Sun Yat-sen University, China (Since Dec 2009)

  • Adjunct Chair Professor, School of Public Health, Zhejiang University, China (Since 2018)

  • Adjunct Professor, Tsinghua University, China (Since August 2018)

  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Anthropology, Sun Yat-sen University, China (Since Jan 2017)

  • Adjunct Professor, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China (Since Jan 2017)

  • Adjunct Professor, Peking Union Medical Center, China (Since Jan 2013)

  • Adjunct Professor, School of Public Health, Shantou University, China (Since May 2012)


Professor Lau received his Bachelor Degree (First Class Honor) from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and his master and doctorate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and was a recipient of the Yale in China Scholarship, the CUHK-University of California Reciprocity Scholarship, the Hewlett Packlett Fellowship and the Population Council Fellowship of the United States. He joined the Faculty of Medicine in 1989 and served as the Director of the Centre for Clinical Trials and Epidemiological Research from 1991 through 2002 and the Director of the Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics from 2002 till 2009. He was the President of the Hong Kong Epidemiological Association from 2007-2009. He also served as the Secretary of the Clinical Research Ethics Committee of the University from Oct 2002 to Jun 2008.

He is currently Professor and Head of the Division of Behavioral Health and Health Promotion and the Director of the Centre of Health Behaviors Research of the School of Public Health and Primary Care. Professor Lau is also the Director of the Community Research Program on AIDS, an active research program which was established in 1996 and has been awarded a Focus Investment Grant of the University. Professor Lau is the Founding President of the Hong Kong Society of Behavioral Health, newly established in 2013.

He is also serving as an associate editor of the Addiction journal (ranked first in its field) and Journal of Chinese Socially Infectious Disease and an editorial board member of the journals including Chronic Diseases and Translational Medicine, Journal of Psychology and Psychotherapy Research, Addictive Behaviors, Health Psychology and Behavioral Health, International Journal of BioMed Research, Journal of Environmental and Public Health, The Open AIDS Journal, Annals of Traditional Chinese Medicine, as well as a consultant and advisor for four other scientific journals.

Professor Lau has authored and co-authored about 490 papers published in international peer-reviewed journals and has been awarded 64 grants as Principal Investigator and 52 grants as Co-investigator. He has also served as a reviewer for major journals including Lancet, American Journal of Public Health, Emerging Infectious Diseases, AIDS, Journal for Epidemiology and Community Health, Social Sciences & Medicine, Vaccine, Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, Tropical Medicine & International Health.

In terms of consultancy services, Professor Lau serves as a consultant of the WHO Informal Expert
Group on Community Engagement Research during the COVID Pandemic, WPRO Informal Network on Hepatitis Stigma & Discrimination, WHO guideline on HIV self-testing and Partner Notification, Disease & Health Management Committee of National Chinese Hospital Association and as a senior consultant of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention for Hunan and Jiangsu Provinces and the Institute of Family Planning and Research in Shenzhen. He provided professional consultancy to international organizations such as the Family Health International, HLSP and the Cambodian government. Professor Lau is also very active in community services. He has been involved in various advisory governmental committees such as those in HIV/AIDS, rehabilitation, civic education and youth development etc. He chaired the Hong Kong Coalition for AIDS Services Organizations from 2000 to 2002 and has been a Director of AIDS Concern in Hong Kong since 2005 to present and an advisor of the Community Health Organization for Intervention, Care and Empowerment (CHOICE).

Research Interests

  • Inter-disciplinary behavioral health research including behavioral health theories, behavioral interventions and mental health related to risk and preventive behaviors:

    • HIV/AIDS research: HIV surveillance, enhanced intervention methods, structural factors, stigma, bio-medical interventions, stigma, methadone treatment, HIV voluntary counseling and testing, methodological issues, substance use and HIV, social media and HIV, sexual health, transgender and gay issues, and HPV.

    • Addiction research: Substance use, alcohol use, smoking, social media and internet addiction

    • Community mental health research among adolescents and older people

    • Behavioral intervention for non-communicable diseases prevention

    • Community responses to emerging infectious diseases: psycho-social and behavioral responses to SARS/H5N1/H1N1, influenza vaccination, and HPV vaccination

    • Social marketing and community health promotion: screening and prevention of diabetics, hypertension, organ donation registration, physical activity, dietary change among cancer patients

Recent Funded Research Projects 

  • Lau JTF, Yang X, She R, Xin M. Who in the general public support violent actions in the social movement and why? (20/03/2020—19/09/2020). HKD 482,873.5 - Public Policy Research Funding Scheme (Special round)

  • Lau JTF, Wong MCS, Mo PKH, Mak WWS. A randomized controlled trial evaluating two e-health interventions (presence/absence of motivational interviewing) in increasing colorectal cancer screening among people aged 50-60 with moderate risk (01/10/2018 - 30/09/2020). HKD 1,198,022 - HMRF

  • Lau JTF. A 3-phase survey, training, and inter-disciplinary combined on-line/offline, theory-based and evidence-based intervention for prevention of psychoactive substance use among adolescents who are case-work clients of social workers (The My Sunny Way Project) (01/08/2018 - 31/07/2021). HKD 2,791,153.79 - Beat Drugs Fund

  • Lau JTF. A Longitudinal Study to Investigate Impact of an Online Real-time HIV Self-testing and Counselling (OSTC) Service on Prevalence of the First-time HIV Testing, Retesting and Sexual Risk Behaviours among Hong Kong MSM (01/12/2017 – 31/05/2020) (Ref#: MD17506). HKD 1,069,834.00 - AIDS Trust Fund

Last Updated: 22 July 2020