My Life in Medicine

A Hong Kong Journey

Yuen Kwok-Yung

ISBN : 978-988-8842-93-3

Medicine / Memoir

June 2024

268 pages, 6″ x 9″, 61 color illus.

  • HK$295.00

Also available in Paperback HK$180.00

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From humble beginnings in Hong Kong, Yuen Kwok-Yung rose to international prominence as an academic, physician, and microbiologist. As an advisor to governments, he and colleagues made discoveries that helped the world cope in often controversial ways with unprecedented threats to public health, including the COVID-19 pandemic. In this compelling memoir, Dr. Yuen weaves personal stories with those from his extraordinary medical careers to take readers on an inspiring journey about perseverance, courage, faith, and the ongoing peril of infectious diseases. 

Yuen Kwok-Yung (袁國勇), Henry Fok Professor and Chair in Infectious Diseases of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong, is a physician, virologist, microbiologist, and one of the world’s foremost medical and scientific researchers. He has been named as a Highly Cited Researcher by Clarivate and one of the top one percent of most influential scholars in the world. 

“This autobiography and lesson on medical ethics reveals how Professor Yuen has strived and overcome many adversities to complete his university education and work as a doctor in a public hospital, how fate has made him turn to an academic career and paved the way for him to become a clinician scientist to pursue research. With his curiosity, talents, perseverance, devotion, and excellent leadership he has made his team the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ for emerging infectious diseases. I must say he was the right person at the right time and the right place.

Despite his lifelong outstanding achievements, he is a modest person, well aware of his own shortcomings and attributes most of the credit to his teammates.”

Professor Rosie Young Tse-Tse, former pro-vice-chancellor and senior pro-vice-chancellor, The University of Hong Kong 

“Professor Yuen’s excellence as physician, surgeon, clinical scientist, and public health advisor has culminated in his crowning achievement—the body of research on H5N1 influenza which helped so much to contain the SARS virus outbreak and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic.

K.Y. has given us his life story—a fascinating and instructive journey in overcoming hardships, challenges, and vicissitudes. This autobiography will educate readers in humanity, dedication, and unwavering devotion to hard but important work, both within the medical profession and Hong Kong’s wider community.”

Professor Richard Yu Yue-Hong, former president and senior advisor, The Hong Kong College of Physicians

“For the many admirers of Professor Yuen Kwok-Yung, this book helps us understand what made him the brilliant scientist, the popular communicator, the motivating leader, the inspiring teacher, the devoted doctor, the devout Christian, and most importantly the loving person. His life story is that of a most representative son of Hong Kong, whose decades of hard work have earned him the respect and trust of the worldwide medical fraternity. His thirst to learn every step along the way has turned what to others might have been negative impediments to positive energy, achievement, and influence. How can we not be touched by his description of his childhood, his relationship with his family, his recollection of his patients, and his recognition for the value of constructive dissent? And we will aways remember his invaluable advice, ‘We must live wisely and fully before our deaths to make life meaningful’.”

Mrs. Selina Chow Liang Shuk-Yee, media expert and former Legislative and Executive Councillor

“My first encounter with Kwok-Yung (K.Y.) took place one evening in 1992 when I, as a very green lecturer in medicine, needed someone to perform an urgent smear on the joint fluid of a patient with high fever. It was after hours and regular staff could not be found, but for K.Y. who was working alone in the corner of the laboratory, and who later confirmed the diagnosis of gonorrheal infection for my patient and taught me a great lesson on the treatment of this condition. This was how dedicated K.Y. was as a microbiologist. 

To many of us, K.Y. is a legend within HKUMed. He leads through practicing fairness, compassion, humility, excellence in science and, most importantly, his desires to improve the health of his patients and the society. Reading the drafts of this autobiography has filled my days with inspiration. This is a must-read for all.”

Professor Lau Chak-Sing, dean, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong

“As a school student, Professor Yuen Kwok-Yung was a fan of Sherlock Holmes. In time, he has become a world-renowned detective hunting for pathogenic viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites, saving lives, and contributing to making the world a safer place. He is an inspiration to future generations of medical Sherlock Holmeses.”

Professor Dennis Lo Yuk-Ming, president, The Hong Kong Academy of Sciences

“K.Y. Yuen, the iconic HKU microbiologist, tells the story of his life and career, and how Christian faith and love shaped his destiny. His scientific discoveries were not by chance, but through teamwork, leadership, and painstaking methodology. He sought the truth, faced, and overcame formidable challenges. His heartwarming personal story is that of a son, student, clinician, friend, husband, and teacher. It beckons us to embrace the ultimate reality.”

Dr. David Fang Jin-Sheng, former president, The Hong Kong Academy of Medicine

“The incredible stories and groundbreaking discoveries of Professor Yuen in his relentless pursuit of combating infectious disease outbreaks are truly exemplary. His remarkable career trajectory—which encompassed rigorous training as a frontline physician, surgeon, clinical microbiologist and virologist—has uniquely equipped him to confront the most critical public health challenges in Hong Kong and around the globe. This book is an absolute must-read for doctors and public health officers alike.”

Dr. Leung Pak-Yin, former chief executive, Hospital Authority, and founding controller, Centre for Health Protection, Hong Kong

“It was my first day as an intern in the Department of Surgery, United Christian Hospital in 1984. Dr. Yuen Kwok-Yung brought me to the bedside of an elderly woman. He held her hands and told me, ‘Au, when you greet your patients by holding their hands, you can build up the rapport and trust while assessing many useful clinical signs like warmth, moisture, pallor, pulse, and capillary refilling.’

This first encounter with Professor Yuen stayed in my mind for 40 years. After reading his autobiography, I understand how a passionate, frontline clinician grows into a great scientist with global perspective and basic research skills to combat major infectious disease outbreaks and contribute to the wellbeing of mankind.”

Dr. Au Yiu-Kai, consultant surgeon, Hospital Authority, and war zone volunteer of Medecins Sans Frontieres