Dr. Francisco T.T. LAI


Assistant Professor
Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care

  • B.Sc, M.Phil., Ph.D.

Dr. Francisco Lai is an Assistant Professor jointly appointed by the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy and the Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, HKUMed. He obtained his B.Sc. degree in economics and finance from HKUST Business School in 2013 (graduating with Dean’s Award in Social Science) and his Ph.D. degree in public health from CUHK Medicine in 2019. He received the Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fellowship (for Postgraduate Students) 2018/19 in recognition of the potential societal significance of his Ph.D. research and was awarded the RGC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2020/21, inaugural exercise) in support of his postdoctoral training at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He joined the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in March 2021 as a Research Assistant Professor and was promoted to Assistant Professor (tenure-track) in September 2023.


Francisco is a big-data epidemiologist focused on the double burdens of infectious and non-communicable diseases as well as physical and mental disorders, i.e., multimorbidity. He led research are published in high-impact journals such as Annals of Internal Medicine, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Nature Communications, and Canadian Medical Association Journal. He has published more than 100 scholarly journal articles, with an H-Index of 23 (Google Scholar, as of Sep 2023). His research has been shortlisted for the HKU Research Output Prize multiple times since 2022, and the societal impact of his works on vaccine safety and pharmacovigilance during the COVID-19 pandemic has also been recognized by the HKU Knowledge Exchange Award in 2023.

The team is actively recruiting motivated PhD students or research assistants. Interested students can email fttlai@hku.hk their CV and samples of publications for Francisco’s consideration.

Key Research Areas

  • Multimorbidity
  • Pharmacoepidemiology
  • Psychiatric epidemiology
  • Health equity

Key Publications
  1. Lai FTT, Huang L, Chui CSL, et al. Multimorbidity and adverse events of special interest associated with Covid-19 vaccines in Hong Kong. Nat Commun. 2022;13(1):411. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-28068-3
    [2022 IF = 16.6; 6/73 in Multidisciplinary Sciences] 
  2. Lai FTT, Yan VKC, Ye X, et al. Booster vaccination with inactivated wholevirus or mRNA vaccines and COVID-19–related deaths among people with multimorbidity: a cohort study. Can Med Assoc J. 2023;195(4):E143-E152. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.221068
    [2022 IF = 14.6; 14/167 in Medicine, General & Internal]
  3. Lai FTT, Li X, Peng K, et al. Carditis after COVID-19 vaccination with a messenger RNA vaccine and an inactivated virus vaccine: A case–control study. Ann Intern Med. 2022;175(3):362-370. doi: 10.7326/M21-3700 
    [2022 IF = 39.2; 6/167 in Medicine, General & Internal]
  4. Lai FTT, Chan EWW, Huang L, et al. Prognosis of myocarditis developing after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination compared to viral myocarditis. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2022;80(24): 2255-2265. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2022.09.049
    [2022 IF = 24.0; 4/142 in Cardiac & Cardiovascular Systems]
  5. Li X, Lai FTT (co-first author), Chua GT, et al. Myocarditis following COVID-19 BNT162b2 vaccination among adolescents in Hong Kong. JAMA Pediatr.2022;176(6):612-614. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2022.0101
    [2022 IF = 26.1; 2/130 in Pediatrics]
  6. Lai FTT, Wong ELY, Tam ZPY, et al. Association of volunteer-administered home care with reduced emergency room visits and hospitalization among older adults with chronic conditions: a propensity-score-matched cohort study. Int J Nurs Stud. 2022;127(1):104158. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2021.104158
    [2022 IF = 8.1; 1/125 in Nursing] 
  7. Lai FTT, Wong SYS, Yip BHK, et al. Multimorbidity in middle age predicts more subsequent hospital admissions than in older age: A nine-year retrospective cohort study of 121,188 discharged in-patients. Eur J Intern Med. 2019;61:103-111. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2018.12.001
    [2022 IF = 8.0; 23/167 in Medicine, General & Internal] 
  8. Lai FTT, Ma TW, Hou WK. Multimorbidity is associated with more subsequent depressive symptoms in three months: a prospective study of community-dwelling adults in Hong Kong. Int Psychogeriatrics. 2019;21(9):1367-1371. doi: 10.1017/S1041610218001916
    [2022 IF = 7.0; 2/37 in Gerontology] 
  9. Lai FTT, Guthrie B, Mercer SW, et al. Association between antipsychotic use and acute ischemic heart disease in women but not in men: a retrospective cohort study of over one million primary care patients. BMC Med. 2020;18(1):289. doi: 10.1186/s12916-020-01765-w
    [2022 IF = 9.3; 19/167 in Medicine, General & Internal]
  10. Lai FTT, Mercer SW, Guthrie B, et al. Sociodemographic moderation of the association between depression and stroke incidence in a retrospective cohort of 0.4 million primary care recipients with hypertension. Psychol Med. 2022;52(2):283-291. doi: 10.1017/S0033291720001920
    [2022 IF = 6.9; 10/131 in Psychology, Clinical]

Team members’ notable works supervised by Francisco

  1. Chu RYK (RA supervisee), Wei Y, Osborn DPJ, … Lai FTT (corresponding author). Breast cancer risks following antipsychotic use in women with bipolar disorder versus schizophrenia: a territory-wide nested case-control study spanning two decades. Psychiatry Res. 2023;326(1):115287. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2023.115287
    [2022 IF = 11.3; 7/144 in Psychiatry]
  2. Huang L (RA supervisee), Lai FTT (co-first author), Yan VKC, et al. Comparing hybrid and regular COVID-19 vaccine-induced immunity against the Omicron epidemic. npj Vaccines. 2022;7(1):162. doi: 10.1038/s41541-022-00594-7
    [2022 IF = 9.2; 17/136 in Medicine, Research & Experimental]
  3. Leung JCN (RA supervisee), Ng DWY, Chu RYK, … Lai FTT (corresponding author). [Editor’s Highlight] Association of antipsychotic use with breast cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies with over two million individuals. Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2022;31(1):e61. doi: 10.1017/S2045796022000476
    [2022 IF = 8.1; 11/144 in Psychiatry]
  4. Chan EWW (RA supervisee), Leung MTY, Lau LKW, … Lai FTT (corresponding author). Comparing self-reported reactogenicity between adolescents and adults following the use of BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) messenger RNA Covid-19 vaccine: a prospective cohort study. Int J Infect Dis. 2022;116(1):47-50. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2021.12.354
    [2022 IF = 8.4; 13/96 in Infectious Diseases]


Research Funding
  1. Health and Medical Research Fund (Ref: 20212591). “Acceleration of multimorbidity incidence after COVID-19 infection and modification by vaccination status: a territory-wide retrospective cohort study”. (Approved)
    [Role: PI; HK$ 1,238,936, 15 Dec 2023 – 14 Dec 2026]
  2. Health and Medical Research Fund (Ref: 19201271). “Applying machine learning to identify and characterize multimorbidity profiles with increased cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and all-cause mortality risks in a retrospective cohort of antipsychotic users”.
    [Role: PI; HK$ 802,608, 1 Nov 2022 – 31 Oct 2024]
  3. Seed Fund for Basic Research for New Staff (Ref: 202107185009). “Multimorbidity in RCTs Looking at SSRIs as an Intervention for Depression”.
    [Role: PI; HK$ 150,000, 10 Jan 2022 – 16 Jan 2023]
  4. Health and Medical Research Fund (Ref: COVID19F01). “COVID-19 vaccines Adverse events Response and Evaluation (CARE) Programme”.
    [Role: Co-I; HK$10,000,000, 1 Apr 2021 – 31 Mar 2024]
  5. Health and Medical Research Fund (Ref: 18190361). “Psychometric Properties and Social Patterning of a Cantonese Version of the 36-Item Patient-Centered Primary Care (PCPC) Instrument for Multimorbid Patients: An Item Response Theory Approach”.
    [Role: Co-I; HK$99,925, 5 Dec 2021 – 4 Jun 2023]

  • Editorial Board Member – Journal of Multimorbidity and Comorbidty (ISSN: 2633-5565, since July 2023)
  • Section Editor (Stress and Public Health) – Stress and Health (ISSN: 1532-3005, since July 2022)

Honours and Awards

  • Honorary Advisor – Quality and Safety Division, Hospital Authority (Mar 2021 – Present)
  • HKU Faculty Knowledge Exchange (KE) Award (Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, 2023)
  • HKU Faculty Outstanding Research Output Award (2021/22-2022/23)
  • RGC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2020/21, inaugural class)
  • Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fellowship (for Postgraduate Students) 2018/19

Other Information


Picture: Francisco being interviewed on his pharmacoepidemiologic research on COVID-19 vaccines in 時事全方位 (Now新聞), a televised program on Now TV on August 31, 2022

(Source: https://news.now.com/home/local/player?newsId=488573&utm_source=nowNewsAppShare&utm_medium=referral)


Picture: Francisco and his research assistants and students