Yuen Kwok-yung (袁國勇), Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (Basic Medicine and Health) and Silver Bauhinea Star Awardee of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China, was born in Hong Kong and graduated from the Medical School at the University of Hong Kong. He is also Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (Lond, Edin, Irel), Surgeons (Glas) and Pathologists (UK). After years of clinical and laboratory training, he established the infectious disease service and rapid molecular diagnosis for cytomegalovirus and tuberculosis at the Queen Mary Hospital, the teaching hospital of the University of Hong Kong. His major research interest is on microbial hunting and emerging infectious diseases.
Yuen graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at University of Hong Kong in 1981 with distinction in Medicine. Initially trained as a surgeon, he switched successfully to a physician and, subsequently, a clinical microbiologist. In the outbreak of avian influenza virus H5N1 in 1997 in Hong Kong, Yuen was the first to report in Lancet about the unusual clinical severity and high mortality of infected patients, which could be identified by the in-house molecular test at his laboratory . During the outbreak of SARS in 2003, he led his team in the discovery of the SARS coronavirus and was honoured as "Asian heroes of the year" in April by Time Asia Magazine . Subsequently he found the natural reservoir of SARS coronavirus like virus in Chinese horseshoe bat and renewed the interest of bats as the source of novel microbes causing emerging infectious diseases . His research laboratory has also identified over 40 new viruses, 9 bacteria, 2 fungi and 2 parasites of which some are suspected or confirmed pathogens: coronavirus HKU1, bat coronavirus HKU2 to 13, bovine and porcine hokovirus and Laribacter hongkongensis in fish and human .
Yuen is currently the Chair of Infectious Disease at the Department of Microbiology of the University of Hong Kong. He co-directs the State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Disease of China in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of PRC. He was the founding co-director of the Hong Kong University-Pasteur Research Centre. His over 500 publications (with over 15,000 citations) mainly pertain to novel microbe discovery and agents of emerging infectious diseases.