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Infection and Immunity Research Group

Overview of Group Research Activities

Microbes are involved in many common oral diseases in humans, such as caries (tooth decay), periodontal (gum) diseases, and fungal infections. Recent studies have increasingly shown that these oral infections may be implicated in some diseases or disorders affecting the rest of the body. The Infection and Immunity Research Group aims to study such topics in a comprehensive manner by using biomedical, clinical, and translational approaches,  in line with the research goals of the HKU Faculty of Dentistry and the relevant University Strategic Research Theme.

Members of this research group come from various disciplines within the Faculty, and they have established numerous local and international research collaborations. Our group is supported by extensive human resources and up-to-date laboratories in the Faculty and the University.

Our principal research focuses:

  • Oral microbiology of healthy as well as medically compromised individuals (those with health/developmental conditions that alter normal activities), including patients with HIV infection, those with diabetes, and those undergoing irradiation for cancer
  • Molecular pathogenesis (disease mechanisms at a molecular or chemical level) and epidemiology (features of disease in human populations) of mouth infections caused by the fungus Candida
  • Mechanisms by which fungi become resistant to antifungal drugs, and the characterisation and development of novel antifungal agents
  • In vitro  (artificial, laboratory) studies into the formation and structure of microbial biofilms—complex multicellular communities of microbes that commonly grow on biological and environmental surfaces
  • Development of new technologies for microbial genome engineering (modification of a micro-organism’s genetic information)
  • Risk factors and biological and genetic markers of periodontal (gum) diseases
  • Basic and clinical studies in periodontal medicine, and the development of appropriate therapeutic modalities (methods or forms of treatment) to control and prevent periodontal diseases
  • Basic and applied research into the operation of the gum’s innate immune (non-specific, first-line defence) system, and the microbiological profiles and molecular mechanisms of bacteria-host interactions in periodontal health and disease
  • The application of traditional Chinese medicines in oral health care


To receive further information or to enquire about collaborative research, please do not hesitate to contact the research group convenor, Dr Rory Watt (e-mail: rmwatt@hku.hk). For a selection of recent research published by the Infection and Immunity Research Group, see our "Research Synopses".


Members of the Infection and Immunity Research Group

Group Convenor
Dr R.M. Watt

Primary Members
Dr J.W.W. Chang
Dr W.Y. Chen
Dr. D.K.L. Ho
Professor L.J. Jin
Dr D.C. Lacap-Bugler
Dr O.LT. Lam
Professor W.K. Leung
Professor L.P. Samaranayake
Dr P.C.S. Tsang
Dr P.W.K. Tsang
Dr R.M. Watt

Affiliated Members
Professor G.S.P. Cheung
Dr C.H. Chu
Professor E.F. Corbet
Dr X.L. Gao
Dr D.W. Green
Dr S.M.L. Lai
Dr B.Y. Liu
Professor E.C.M. Lo
Dr J. Lo
Dr J.K.H. Tsoi
Dr H.M. Wong
Dr C.F. Zhang