Hong Kong has a long history of research on communicable disease: from the discovery of the plague bacillus by Alexandre Yersin and Shibasaburo Kitasato during the plague epidemic of 1894, to the identification of the SARS-Coronavirus at The University of Hong Kong in March 2003. The Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese - the predecessor of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong - was founded by the London Missionary Society with the support of Sir Patrick Manson in 1887.

As a commercial and cultural hub networked into Asia and the world, Hong Kong provides a unique vantage point for studying the challenges and opportunities posed for health security by the new global interconnectedness.

The aim is to promote collaborations between those working across a range of fields including History, Geography, Anthropology, the Social Sciences, Public Health and Medicine in order to generate fresh thinking on the ways in which epidemics are shaped by socio-cultural, political and economic forces. A key focus of the research theme is on understanding the impact of disease on socio-cultural environments and on bringing comparative historical approaches to the study of epidemics, particularly within the context of the reciprocal relationship between East Asia and the West, one of the University of Hong Kong's key strategic research themes.

The Contagions research theme is informed by the principle that understanding epidemics as cultural, as well as a biological phenomena, is key to the formulation and implementation of effective public health policies. The Contagions research theme is closely connected with the Humanitarian Programme and Natural Disasters research project.

Forthcoming activities:
- International workshop Histories and Ecologies of Health - details coming soon

Past activities:
- International workshop on Phones, Drones and Disease: Epidemic Intelligence and the Future of Communications in East Asia was held on 17-18 May 2018

- International conference Animal Histories in Human Health: Comparative Perspectives from East Asia, 1850-1950 was held on 26-27 March 2015

- International conference Panic: Disease, Crisis and Empire was held on 10 - 11 December 2012

- International conference Disease and Crime was held on 18 - 19 April 2011

- A special session of the international conference: Constructing Pandemics, was held on 13 July 2010 at The University of Hong Kong.

- A workshop on Imperial Contagions was held between 9 - 11 December 2009 at The University of Hong Kong.

For further information, please contact Prof Robert Peckham or Dr Ria Sinha.


New Book Out: Empires of Panic: Epidemics and Colonial Anxieties

Workshop Poster

Article When Death Came Calling: How the Plague Swept Through Hong Kong, SCMP, 22 June 2014