The University of Macau (UM) held a talk titled ‘Virus-Host Interaction: Targets for Vaccines and Drug Discoveries’ today (27 March) as part of the University Lecture Series-cum-Seminar Series of Ministry of Education Frontiers Science Center for Precision Oncology, UM. Gao FU, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), international member of the US National Academy of Sciences, and professor in the Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, was the speaker. During the talk, he discussed the importance of studying the mechanisms of virus-host interaction and developing vaccines and antiviral drugs to prevent and control pandemic diseases. The talk was well attended by experts, scholars, industry practitioners, students and faculty of UM, as well as members of the public.

Speaking at the event, Chuxia DENG, Dean of UM’s Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), praised Prof. Gao’s accomplishments in research on the cross-host transmission of pathogenic microorganisms, infection mechanisms and host cell immunity, as well as public health policy and global health strategies. His research team was one of the first teams worldwide to publish the full genomic sequence of the COVID-19 virus, providing important support to the global response to the pandemic. Prof. Gao is the author of more than 800 articles published in leading international scientific journals, and has received many awards. His outstanding achievements have led him to take up important positions in various organisations, including deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and deputy director of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). He has also been invited as a foreign member to multiple national academies, which underscores the international recognition of his outstanding contributions.

During the talk, Prof. Gao explained how he and his team systematically studied the infection mechanisms of avian influenza viruses, Ebola viruses, and coronaviruses; and discovered a series of key antigens for vaccine design and new targets for drug development. He also presented the results of the research carried out by his team over the years, including the study of the cross-species transmission mechanism and drug resistance mechanism of influenza viruses; the study of the invasion and replication mechanism of the highly pathogenic Ebola virus; the development of new protein subunit coronavirus vaccines and therapeutic human neutralising antibodies based on the viral spike protein receptor-binding domains during the COVID-19 pandemic; as well as the design and development of the new monkey pox vaccines and human respiratory syncytial virus vaccines based on structural biology. These studies have not only promoted human understanding of the transmission and pathogenesis of emerging viral infectious diseases, but also played a major role in the prevention and control of infectious diseases.

In addition, Prof. Gao engaged in discussions with the audience during the Q&A and discussion session, which was moderated by FHS Associate Dean Ren-he XU.

Gao FU

Chuxia DENG

Gao FU gives a talk on virus-host interaction at UM