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. The recent outbreaks of Ebola have led to an unprecedented number of deaths and cases. New pathogens continue to emerge, as demonstrated by the SARS epidemic in 2003, the swine flu pandemic in 2009 and MERS CoV in 2013.
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 swine flu 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.
This two week course, organized jointly between the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Public Health England (formerly, Health Protection Agency) 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, small group work, 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 infections disease modelling, which will be useful in their future work.
The course makes use of Excel, and a specialist modelling package (Berkeley Madonna). The topics to be covered include:
The material from this popular and successful course is complemented by the recently published book “An Introduction to Infectious Disease Modelling” which was written by two of the course organizers (Emilia Vynnycky and Richard White).
All teaching is carried out at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and consists of lectures, computer practicals and small group discussions. Evening seminars by invited external modellers, epidemiologists and decision-makers, which highlight the practical applications of modelling, are also scheduled throughout the course. See the detailed course description (below) for further details. A detailed course manual, a USB containing the models used during the course, a licence for the specialist, user-friendly modelling package "Berkeley Madonna" and a copy of the book "An introduction to infectious disease modelling" (written by the course organisers) will be given to participants. There will be no formal examination, but a Certificate of Attendance will be issued to those completing the course.
The course is taught by staff from the Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the Modelling and Economics Unit at Public Health England, London, and the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Staff have extensive experience of working closely with epidemiologists, policy and decision makers, in applying modelling to field data from developed and developing countries and using models to guide policy decision, and in teaching modelling techniques to professionals from medical and biological disciplines. Further details about the backgrounds of staff in the Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases can be found here.
Methods of assessment
There is no formal assessment but, at the conclusion of the course, a certificate of attendance will be provided.
The course is taught by staff from the Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the Modelling and Economics Unit at the Health Protection Agency Centre for Infections, London, and the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Staff have extensive experience of working closely with epidemiologists, policy and decision makers, in applying modelling to field data from developed and developing countries and using models to guide policy decision, and in teaching modelling techniques to professionals from medical and biological disciplines.
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.
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