2015 Senior Research Fellow: Benjamin Cowling

30 April 2015

Dr Benjamin John Cowling is an eminent biostatistician who combines biological, epidemiological, and statistical approaches with a practical understanding of public health issues, to investigate the epidemiology of influenza. 

Dr Cowling began his postgraduate education at the University of Warwick and continued his training at Imperial College London before joining the University of Hong Kong in 2004. He is currently an Associate Professor and heads the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong.

Dr Cowling intends to spend the period of his Senior Research Fellowship working on transmission dynamics within households, and the role of immunity. His primary research area is the epidemiology of respiratory infections, particularly respiratory viruses including influenza. In recent years, he has designed and implemented large field studies of influenza virus infection and transmission in the community, and the effectiveness and impact of control measures such as vaccines. His research spans from analyses of transmission dynamics at the individual level up to disease burden and dynamics at the population level. In May 2014, his team broke the first Guinness World Record for a Hand Sanitizing Relay. He has a particular interest in understanding how the characteristics of person-to-person spread contribute to patterns in incidence of infections in populations.

As of April 2015, Dr Cowling has 226 scientific publications, with a total of 3,529 citations. He is a fellow of the Faculty of Public Health and Royal Statistical Society, and a member of the American Statistical Association. He is a Section Editor of the journal PLOS ONE, a Senior Editor of the journal Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses, and a founding editor of the journal PLOS Currents: Outbreaks. Dr Cowling actively contributes to the work of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control, a designation conferred to HKU School of Public Health since December 2014, and has been frequently invited to give plenary lectures at top international conferences on influenza research.

Croucher Senior Research Fellowships are prestigious awards supporting mid-career scientists in Hong Kong universities who wish to spend more time on research, and less time on their heavy teaching and administrative commitments. In selecting the awardees for the Senior Research Fellowships the Croucher Foundation Trustees were assisted by a group of eminent scientists from nine countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, UK and the USA. All candidates in this exercise went through a stringent process of assessment and selection, and are Hong Kong scientists internationally recognized to be at the forefront of their respective fields.

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