Gao obtained his DPhil degree from Oxford University, UK and did his postdoc work in both Oxford University and Harvard University (with a brief stay in Calgary University). His researches focus on pathogen microbiology and immunology. Gao is a leading scientist in the field of virology and immunology in China and worldwide, and he has long been engaged in the research of transmission of pathogenic microorganisms across hosts, infection mechanisms and host cellular immunity, as well as public health policy and global health strategy, including Influenza, MERS, Ebola, Zika, Chikungunya, and especially for COVID-19 pandemic’s prevention and control. He has published numeral refereed papers (Including papers in Cell, Nature, Science, The Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA etc.). Gao is a recipient of several international and national awards, including TWAS Medical Prize (2012), Nikkei Asian Prize (Japan 2014), Shulan Medical Sciences Award (2016), the Gamaleya Medal (Russia 2018), HKU Centennial Distinguished Chinese Scholar (2019) and the Qiu Shi Outstanding Scientist, Outstanding Scientific Research Team Awards (2019) and TWAS Medal Lectures (2022).
At the time of the outbreak of COVID-19, Gao led the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) team to be the first to isolate the new coronavirus, to sequence the entire genome as well as establishing the main epidemiological parameters (such as transmission route, incubation period, etc). He led the coordination of several countries across scientific research panels and quickly issued alarms to the world, sharing scientific data with peers in the world by using top- niche magazine platforms such as The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet, also share China’s data in prevention and protection of public health with the world, and contributing Chinese wisdom to the world’s epidemic prevention and control. In terms of vaccine and drug research and development: the virus isolated by the China CDC provided the virus seed and BSL-3 conditions to producing the new coronavirus inactivated vaccines for both Sinopharm and SinoVac, and the new coronavirus recombinant protein vaccine ZF2001 developed by Gao’s team is already in use in China, Uzbekistan and Republic of Indonesia. In addition, the new coronavirus monoclonal antibody (Etesevimab®) developed was approved by FDA of United States and the European Medicines Agency for EUA in collaboration with Eli Lilly and Junshi.