Mathematical and computational plague hazard assessment

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Applied Mathematics


Context of research
The risks to civilians and military personnel from biological threats, whether from
naturally occurring diseases or malicious attacks, are among the highest priorities for the UK Government.

Aims and objectives
The aim is to devise mathematical models and computational tools that can be used to support research into the treatment of dangerous pathogens and simulate the dynamics of the competition between interacting populations of pathogens and immune cells within host organisms. The agent of interest in this project is Yersinia pestis (Y. pestis), which is a gram-negative bacterium and the causative agent of plague, a disease of humans and mammals which has been recognised since antiquity. Due to its persistence as a threat from numerous perspectives (public health, defence and security), research is necessary to develop a greater understanding of the dynamics of Y. pestis infection. Since it is highly pathogenic and can only be handled at the highest levels of biological containment in laboratories, very few organisations are able to work with plague. However, there is a substantial amount of published data, and the industrial sponsor (Dstl) possesses a great amount of subject matter expertise.

Potential applications and benefits

This PhD project aims to develop new within-host mathematical and computational models to describe the process of Y. pestis infection acquired via the inhalation route, and its treatment. The partnership between Dstl and University of Leeds to develop innovative within-host models of infection and treatment of Y. pestis therefore presents an important and exciting challenge for a PhD project. The models will be integrated to provide a toolset that can be used to predict the consequences of an aerosol release of Y. pestis, and to investigate optimal treatment strategies. The toolset will allow different medical countermeasures to be tested in silico and will also allow alternative scenarios, such as antibiotic resistance, to be explored.

The research project is aligned with the Health and Global Challenges research theme at the University of Leeds

Qualification to be attained: Ph.D degree in Applied Mathematics


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/T517562/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2024
2444379 Studentship EP/T517562/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Adam Aldridge