Dr Andrew Conlan on understanding the transmission of infectious diseases

Dr Andrew Conlan on understanding the transmission of infectious diseases

  • Dr Andrew Conlan, Alborada Post-doctoral Fellow in Epidemiology
    Dr Andrew Conlan, Alborada Post-doctoral Fellow in Epidemiology

Image courtesy of Annie Lovett

A pioneering scheme that engages schoolchildren with maths is also helping scientists work towards understanding the spread of diseases such as measles, thanks to Dr Andrew Conlan.

The kids are involved in an actual scientific research project, they’re learning about the use of mathematics in a context they had probably not thought about before.

Dr Andrew Conlan

His work with schools, which sees children collecting data, is allowing him to analyse their spatial movements and how this affects the transmission of diseases.

His findings are of relevance not just to other scientists working in the field but also public health professionals, policy makers, governments and international organisations.

In 2013, The Alborada Trust significantly increased their investment in the Alborada Fund in Equine and Farm Animal Science in the Department of Veterinary Science. Through this support, Dr Conlan was awarded the Alborada Post-doctoral Fellowship in Epidemiology.

Andrew’s work spans both the numbers behind infectious diseases and the public outreach in front of them.

The data being gathered from participating schools nationwide is allowing him to analyse the spatial movements of children and how this affects the transmission of diseases such as measles.

“Mathematical models are necessary to understand the population dynamics that drive transmission of infectious diseases. From a policy point of view, mathematical modelling is important because it influences public health decisions about vaccinations in people and animals”, comments Andrew.

In the past year he has also succeeded in producing a quantitative evidence base on the opportunities and challenges associated with the potential use of a Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) tuberculosis vaccination for cattle.

With growing, changing and migrating populations, new outbreaks of disease and the emergence of new strains of disease, mathematical modelling has become even more important in infectious disease epidemiology, control and possible eradication.

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