Ebola Virus in the blood

The MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling maintains an active research programme in emerging infectious diseases. Our work in this field falls under three main areas; 

  • Analysing data and applying mathematical models to compare the potential effects of different control options; 
  • Improving methods for characterising new disease threats based on surveillance data; 
  • Analysing the genetic factors that enable some viruses to jump from one species to another.  

Pathogens capable of crossing from animal reservoirs into human populations (zoonoses) can pose major public health problems, as the SARS outbreaks in 2003 and the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009 demonstrated.

Researchers in the Centre develop new methods for analysing epidemics as they unfold providing evidence-based epidemiological advice to policymakers and public health professionals.

We also develop new methods that use routinely collected surveillance data to monitor zoonotic diseases and assess their epidemic potential. Building on this work, we develop easy-to-use analytical tools for use in outbreak investigations and response. These tools help field epidemiologists without in-depth knowledge of mathematical modelling or statistical analysis to predict how a disease will spread, and the effects of different control measures, based on surveillance data. 

More fundamental research is using viral genomics to probe the evolution of emerging infections, applying machine learning techniques first developed in computer science to better understand how viruses adapt to particular host species, and to predict more accurately which zoonotic pathogens are prone to form the pandemics of the future.

Academic staff