Malik Peiris

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Professor Malik Peiris FRS SBS
Born (1949-11-10) 10 November 1949 (age 65)
Sri Lanka
Residence Hong Kong
Fields virology, influenza, SARS, infectious disease, medicine, microbiology
Institutions University of Hong Kong
Royal Society
Hong Kong University-Pasteur Institute
Alma mater

St. Anthony's College, Kandy,
University of Peradeniya

University of Oxford: Keble College
Doctoral advisor Porterfield JS
Doctoral students Cheung CY
Known for Discovery of SARS Coronavirus
Cytokine storm theory of avian influenza
Notable awards Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), UK
Légion d'Honneur
Silver Bauhinia Star (SBS), Hong Kong.

Joseph Malik Sriyal Peiris (裴偉士)(born 10 November 1949),[1] FRS, Légion d'Honneur was born in Sri Lanka, a distinguished old boy of St. Anthony's College, Kandy and later studied medicine at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. This was followed by the award of a PhD at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, UK, where he made significant discoveries on the mechanism of dengue virus pathogenesis.[2] After further work in the UK and Sri Lanka, he founded a virology laboratory at Queen Mary Hospital, (which is part of the University of Hong Kong), in 1995.

Avian Influenza[edit]

After the first outbreak of avian influenza virus H5N1 in humans in Hong Kong in 1997, Professor Peiris's attention was turned to the virus, which claimed the lives of one third of its victims. Research in his laboratory showed that the virus induces high levels of chemicals called cytokines when it infects a type of white blood cell. This was later shown to correlate with high levels of cytokines in infected humans.[3] This so-called "cytokine storm" is now recognised as a major mechanism of avian influenza virus pathogenesis.[4]

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)[edit]

In 2003, Hong Kong suffered another virus outbreak, this time from an unknown respiratory disease, termed SARS.[5] Malik became known worldwide when his laboratory was the first to isolate the virus,[6] a novel coronavirus (CoV), now known as SARS-CoV.[7]

Joseph Malik Sriyal Peiris, PhD, has been the scientific director of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre at the University of Hong Kong.[8] Malik Peiris[9] is also notable for having isolated the causal agent for the respiratory infection SARS in early 2003.[10][11]


Malik continues to work at the University of Hong Kong and was appointed scientific director of the Hong Kong University-Pasteur Institute.[12] He is the first Sri Lankan to be elected to the Royal Society of London, the highest scientific honour in the Commonwealth. He was decorated as Knight of the Légion d'Honneur of France on 15 October 2007[citation needed]. He was awarded the Silver Bauhinia Star (SBS) in 2008 from the government of Hong Kong SAR for "outstanding achievements in the field of virology and pathology, in particular his contribution to the prevention and control of infectious diseases."[13]


  1. ^ "The Academy of Sciences Malaysia has decided to award the Mahathir Science Award 2007 to Professor Joseph Sriyal Malik Peiris for his outstanding contribution to Tropical Medicine.". 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  2. ^ Peiris JS, Porterfield JS (1979). "Antibody-mediated enhancement of Flavivirus replication in macrophage-like cell lines". Nature 282 (5738): 509–11. doi:10.1038/282509a0. PMID 503230. 
  3. ^ Cheung CY; Poon, LL; Lau, AS; Luk, W; Lau, YL; Shortridge, KF; Gordon, S; Guan, Y; Peiris, JS et al. (2002). "Induction of proinflammatory cytokines in human macrophages by influenza A (H5N1) viruses: a mechanism for the unusual severity of human disease?". Lancet 360 (9348): 1831–7. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(02)11772-7. PMID 12480361. 
  4. ^ Peiris; Yu, WC; Leung, CW; Cheung, CY; Ng, WF; Nicholls, JM; Ng, TK; Chan, KH et al. (2004). "Re-emergence of fatal human influenza A subtype H5N1 disease". Lancet 363 (9409): 617–9. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(04)15595-5. PMID 14987888. 
  5. ^ Sampathkumar P, Temesgen Z, Smith TF, Thompson RL (2003). "SARS: epidemiology, clinical presentation, management, and infection control measures". Mayo Clin. Proc. 78 (7): 882–90. doi:10.4065/78.7.882. PMID 12839084. 
  6. ^ Peiris JS, Lai ST, Poon LL et al. (2003). "Coronavirus as a possible cause of severe acute respiratory syndrome". Lancet 361 (9366): 1319–25. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(03)13077-2. PMID 12711465. 
  7. ^ Lau YL, Peiris JS (2005). "Pathogenesis of severe acute respiratory syndrome". Curr. Opin. Immunol. 17 (4): 404–10. doi:10.1016/j.coi.2005.05.009. PMID 15950449. 
  8. ^ "Visit of the Grand Chancellor of the Légion d'honneur", Consulate General of France in Hong Kong and Macau, 2007, webpage: FHK17: (states "Lap Chee Tsui and Pr Malik Peiris, scientific director of HKU-Pasteur Research Centre received the award of Knight").
  9. ^ His name is typically as "Malik Peiris".
  10. ^ "Up Close and Personal With SARS", Dennis Normile, Science, Vol. 300, p.886, May 2003, webpage: SMag86.
  11. ^ "Features", Daily News (online), June 2006, webpage: DailyNews-fea01: contains "Following the discovery of the cause of SARS, Professor Peiris was invited...".
  12. ^ HKU-Pasteur Staff page
  13. ^ Hong Kong SAR 2008 Honours list

External links[edit]

  • "Features", Daily News (online), June 2006, webpage: DailyNews-fea01: contains "Following the discovery of the cause of SARS, Professor Peiris was invited...".
  • "HKU ResearcherPage: Peiris, JSM", The HKU Scholars Hub (online database), webpage: [1]