This course provide a broad understanding of infectious diseases through the core modules in public health, biostatistics and epidemiology, and the biology and control of infectious diseases which are taken by all students, together with the subsequent opportunities for specialised study in areas of the student’s own choice.
Infectious diseases remain a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with HIV, tuberculosis and malaria estimated to cause 10% of all deaths each year. New pathogens continue to emerge, as demonstrated by the SARS epidemic in 2003, the swine flu pandemic in 2009, MERS CoV in 2013, Zika in 2016 and recently Covid-19 in 2019..
Mathematical models are being increasingly used to understand the transmission of infections and to evaluate the potential impact of control programmes in reducing morbidity and mortality. Applications include determining optimal control strategies against new or emergent infections, such as Covid-19, Zika or Ebola, or against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, and predicting the impact of vaccination strategies against common infections such as measles and rubella. Modelling was used extensively in the UK during the recent swine flu pandemic to monitor the extent of ongoing transmission and the potential impact of control such as school closures and vaccination. It is currently being used in many countries to predict the impact of interventions against COVID-19.
This course is intended to introduce professionals working on infectious diseases in either developing or developed countries to this exciting and expanding area. The emphasis will be on developing a conceptual understanding of the basic methods and on their practical application, rather than the manipulation of mathematical equations. The methods will be illustrated by “hands-on” experience of setting up models in spreadsheets as well as other specialist modelling packages, and seminars in which the applications of modelling will be discussed.
By the end of the course, participants will have deepened their current understanding of infectious disease epidemiology and have gained an understanding and practical experience of the basics of infectious disease modelling, which will be useful in their future work.
Who should apply?
The course is designed for individuals interested in expanding their knowledge of the techniques available for analysing and interpreting epidemiological data on infectious diseases and for predicting the impact of control programmes, including medical and health professionals, policy makers, veterinary scientists, medical statisticians and infectious disease researchers. Specialist mathematical training is not a prerequisite. However, individuals with degrees in mathematical disciplines working on some aspect of infectious disease dynamics and/ or control, who wish to learn about the potential of infectious disease modelling will also benefit. Some familiarity with spreadsheet packages (ideally Excel) is desirable. Applicants should have a good command of English.