Disease transmission and control in complex, structured populations

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Mathematics


Infectious disease is the main thing that kills people. Some of the greatest improvements to human health have involved improvements in our understanding and control of germs - from John Snow's pioneering work on cholera in the 19th century to the eradication of smallpox in the 20th century. The 21st century sees a new set of challenges in the understanding and control of infections - while the eradication of polio progresses, we see new influenza strains causing or threatening pandemics, the continued progression of HIV and a massive health burden of often simply but expensively preventable diseases in the developing world.Epidemiology - the science of looking for significant patterns in cases of disease - has always been at the heart of controlling infectious diseases, and mathematics has always been central epidemiology.This project applies advanced mathematics to the science of epidemiology, making use of the large datasets and modern computational resources that are available. New insights about the structure of complex systems offer the promise of making massive advances in this field, through enhanced understanding of transmission routes of infection, risk factors and changes in the disease over time. These insights can in turn be combined with mathematical methods to design optimised interventions against infection so that diseases can be controlled in the most effective way.

Planned Impact

The ultimate aim for impact from my research is to reduce the burden of infectious disease on the human population - quantitative epidemiology has always been at the centre of efforts to control pathogens.Infectious disease remains the main cause of human mortality. This means that major advances in our understanding of them can revolutionise public health, while even minor improvements in science can have highly significant effects on the general health and well-being of the general population.The intermediate beneficiaries of my work are the Health Protection Agency (HPA), which is the body responsible for public health - including infection control - in England, the medical research institute KEMRI in Kenya, and also the Department of Health and associated scientific advisory bodies. Through working with these bodies as detailed in the Pathways to Impact document I will ensure that any policy-relevant conclusions from my work are swiftly disseminated.




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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/J002437/1 01/10/2011 31/12/2014 £632,534
EP/J002437/2 Transfer EP/J002437/1 01/04/2015 31/03/2017 £246,904
Description In this round: results on the emergence of pandemic influenza; new mathematical techniques for network epidemics; understanding social effects in giving birth in facilities in Uganda.

In the last round: statistical tests for the epidemiological relevance of the tail of a contact distribution; vaccine policy relevant modelling for RSV in developed countries; that depression does not spread in social networks but health mood does; and many technical results that support these conclusions.
Exploitation Route Public Health Policy.
Sectors Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://personalpages.manchester.ac.uk/staff/thomas.house
Description The paper "Spreading of healthy mood in adolescent social networks" was extremely well reported by the media, and has been followed up including relevance to policy. Work on integration of datasets and network / households methodology has been very influential during the current coronavirus outbreak, particularly design of non-pharmaceutical interventions. Work on Ebola was widely cited and used as part of evidence by the Government.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Healthcare
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description Industrially Funded MPhil
Amount £26,900 (GBP)
Organisation Autotrader 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2017 
End 12/2017
Description Industrially Funded MSc project
Amount £3,000 (GBP)
Organisation Autotrader 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2016 
End 09/2016