Dr. Kao received his Ph. D. in Microbiology in 1999 from UBC under the supervision of Professor Julian Davies and subsequent postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School from 1999-2001. He joined the University of Hong Kong in 2001 as a Research Assistant Professor, first in HKU-Pasture Research Center, and later in the Department of Microbiology. Now he is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of microbiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, and a Member of the State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases at HKU.
Dr. Kao’s research focuses on the application of chemical genetics in infectious diseases. His work on SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV), which was published in Chemistry & Biology in 2004, has established the world’s first model of chemical genetics in viruses and illustrated that chemical genetic approach could be employed to probe most, if not all, druggable targets of a pathogenic virus. Dr. Kao’s team also employed similar approach to identify new druggable targets in influenza viruses and published in Nature Biotechnology in 2010 an article detailing the groundbreaking discovery of influenza A nucleoprotein as a novel druggable antiviral target and a compound which they named nucleozin as a potent antagonist of the nucleoprotein.
It was also the first time and still is the only local study led by a Hong Kong team has been published in Nature Biotechnology, the top journal in the field. Most recently, Dr. Kao has extended his chemical genetic studies to virulence and antibiotics resistance in bacteria and has illustrated the potential use of anti-virulence compounds to treat MRSA infections. The research results have been published in top microbiology journals Frontiers in Microbiology and mBio in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Dr. Kao received the Innovation Academy Award from International Consortium of Prevention and Control of Infection (ICPIC) in Geneva, Switzerland in 2017.