Malik Peiris is a public health virologist recognized for his research on the pathogenesis and ecology of viral infections, particularly influenza and coronaviruses. Peiris was born in Sri Lanka and graduated with a degree in medicine (MBBS) from the University of Ceylon. His doctoral research was carried out at the University of Oxford and he subsequently trained in clinical virology at the Public Health Laboratory at Birmingham, UK and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. He served as a Senior Lecturer in Microbiology at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, as consultant clinical virologist at the Royal Victoria Infirmary at Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and then joined the University of Hong Kong in 1995 where he now serves as Professor and Chair in Virology at the School of Public Health. He was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of London (2006), fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (2016) and a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences (2017). He is a founding fellow of the Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong and a honorary fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, Sri Lanka.

Research Interests

Malik Peiris and his collaborators have been interested in viral macrophage interactions, the pathogenesis of viral disease and on the factors contributing to emergence of viral infections at the animal-human interface. He investigated antibody-dependent enhancement of flavivirus replication and contributed to initial understanding of the underlying mechanisms and viral epitope specificities. They investigated the emergence and pathogenesis of zoonotic influenza viruses such as the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 and the evolutionary and molecular determinants underlying the emergence of the 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus from its swine precursors. Their studies revealed the role of dysregulated cytokine responses in the pathogenesis of highly pathogenic H5N1 disease in humans and highlighted the need for adjunctive therapeutic options. By elucidating the dynamics of transmission of avian influenza viruses within the poultry systems of Asia, they identified interventions in the live poultry market systems that reduce risk to both humans and birds. When SARS emerged as a new epidemic disease in 2003, they identified the causative agent as a novel coronavirus and investigated the pathogenesis of this disease. More recently his laboratory is investigating the recently emerged Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 44: Microbial Biology

Secondary Section

Section 43: Immunology and Inflammation