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What research areas are you interested in? Why would you step into them?
My main research area is Infectious Disease Epidemiology. I started my journey as a researcher when I graduated with a Master of Philosophy in CUHK and joined Prof Gabriel Leung’s team under Department of Community medicine, HKU. After a year working as research assistant and continuous encouragement of Prof Leung, I embarked my PhD study journey in mathematical transmission models and Infectious Disease Epidemiology.
What does public health and primary care mean to you?
Primary care is the first contact point in a continuing healthcare process,
, providing broad range of services close to the community where people live and work, including health promotion, prevention of acute and chronic diseases, as well as medical support and management.
Public health is constituted of a structured set of measures, in both public and private sectors, to prevent diseases, promote health and extend population life expectancy. These activities aim to create a healthy living environment to the whole population, not focusing on a particular patient or disease. Public health does not only shed light on treating diseases or simply providing medical services, but also concerns lowering mortality by preventing diseases, cutting medical expenses and reducing the burden of public healthcare system. At the end, a healthy population contributes to better economic development. To effectively prevent disease and maintain community health, the key role of public health practitioners is to consolidate our experience in working with different parties, and foresee possible daily health challenges. Our work is to strategically plan the effective management of healthcare services, manage and prevent infectious diseases, and analyse which policies could foster a healthy lifestyle for the future generations.
Our School’s mission is to educate professionals to combat healthcare challenges brought by diseases.
What was your initial thought about COVID-19? And how did it change as the year progress? What lessons can we learn from COVID-19 to better prepare for ongoing and future epidemics?
I thought the COVID-19 pandemic, similar to the SARS epidemic in 2003, would only last for a few months or at most up to 1 year. COVID-19 is likely to become endemic - the disease cannot be eradicated but that it's at a level which does not cause significant disruption in our daily lives. The lesson we learnt from this pandemic is more research work in infectious disease epidemiology and surveillance as well as immunological responses to viral infection of respiratory diseases should be conducted to have a better preparedness for the ongoing and future epidemics.
I would like to share my co-authored work published last year to share my views on a guide for next pandemic (See this link https://www.journalofinfection.com/article/S0163-4453(21)00203-6/fulltext )
Did you encounter bottlenecks in your research/work? How would you deal with stress in everyday life?
Conducting research is a battle against time. Producing satisfactory research work within a limited time frame is the main obstacle, which can be somehow managed by time utilization and maximizing time efficiency.
I think most people improve their mood by engaging in something they like. For me, eating is a great pleasure. I particularly fancy the fried chicken at one of the 24-hour fast food shops. That’s why I gained so much weight during the COVID-19 pandemic. I also like researching stock market or Index futures to clear my mind.
How do you balance and allocate your time between work and leisure?
This question made me reflect a lot. Maybe this is what I have neglected throughout the journey in combatting COVID-19. If I had the chance to correct myself, I would remind myself to stop looking at my phone, my adult pacifier, at a certain time, and stop replying email so I could resume my normal resting schedule.
Could you share and describe a work that inspired you?
This is a drama, Alive in the Mortuary, by Chung Ying Theatre Company.
"Whateverone wishes is fantasy; a path full of brambles along is aspiration. "
Life is short and aspirations many. When we realize your life is filled with uncertainties and is passing minute by minute, should we live as we wish or live to our fullest to strive for the ideal, even if you know the path is full of brambles?
I had the opportunity to work at an investment bank when graduated, but at last I chose to pursue my dreams as academia by getting a PhD degree. I always question if I would gain nothing at the end, as academic research does not meet the concept of cost and benefit in the modern society. But if my humble research work could bring the world some positive changes, whether it is for today or for tomorrow, I would still conquer the difficulties ahead.
If you could give advice to your younger self at university, what would you say?
"Don’t worry about tomorrow, or tomorrow will bring its own worries. Just enjoy every moment after graduating from university."