An Imperial epidemiologist has been awarded a share of a prestigious maths prize for her outstanding work in modelling infectious disease outbreaks.
Dr Anne Cori, from the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis and the Jameel Institute Imperial College London, has been named as one of the winners of this year’s Adams Prize, and the sixth woman to win the prize in its almost 175-year history.
The Prize is awarded annually by the University of Cambridge to UK-based researchers under the age of 40, carrying out first class international research in the Mathematical Sciences.
Former winners includes theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking (1966), and the 2023 prize is awarded for achievements in the field of Mathematical and Statistical Epidemiology, a first since it was first awarded in 1850.
This year, the Prize is shared between Dr Cori and Professor Adam Kucharski, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, for their work modelling the spread of infectious disease outbreaks; from SARS-CoV-2 and influenza, to Ebola and HIV.
Dr Anne Cori, from the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London, said: “I am really honoured to receive this prize, which has recognised a number of renowned mathematical talents over almost two centuries.
"I thank the prize committee for choosing the topical theme of mathematical epidemiology for this year’s prize. The last few years have illustrated the critical role mathematics and statistics can play in the fight against infectious diseases, and it is great to see this recognised by this prize.
The last few years have illustrated the critical role mathematics and statistics can play in the fight against infectious diseases, and it is great to see this recognised by this prize. Dr Anne Cori MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis
“I’m very happy to share the prize with Professor Adam Kucharski, whose research and communication on mathematical modelling of infectious diseases is outstanding.
"This joint prize is also testament of the excellence of both Imperial College London and LSHTM in infectious disease epidemiology. I don’t think either of us could have pursued research of the same quality without the stimulating research environment that both institutions offer.”
Professor Adam Kucharski, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “It's a real honour to be awarded this prize. It's great to see growing awareness of the value of mathematics and statistics in analysing epidemics, as reflected in this year's prize topic, and I've been fortunate to work with some excellent collaborators and mentors in this field, both at LSHTM and more broadly. I'm also delighted to be sharing with Dr Anne Cori, whose research I've really admired over the years.”
Tracking disease outbreaks
Dr Cori’s research at Imperial focuses on developing methods and tools that can be used in real time, to track a broad range of pathogens. Her work has helped to inform on a range of infectious disease epidemics, including COVID-19, Ebola, and HIV, enabling researchers to detect changes in transmission patterns, and predict possible outbreak trajectories under a range of control measures.
I take this opportunity to encourage all girls and women to engage in and study science and mathematics, and to highlight the collective responsibility we have in ensuring access to education and scientific careers for all Dr Anne Cori MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis
Among the tools she has developed is the software package EpiEstim, which enables users to estimate the transmissibility of a pathogen in real time during an outbreak.
Dr Cori was also a core member of the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, which produced more than 50 reports whose mathematical modelling and work with governments around the world helped inform initial responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Cori added: “As we mark International Women’s Day this week, it’s important to note that only five women before me have won this prize*. For 151 years, the prize was only ever awarded to men. Since 2002 (the first year a woman won the prize), fewer than one in five awardees have been women.
"I take this opportunity to encourage all girls and women to engage in and study science and mathematics, and to highlight the collective responsibility we have in ensuring access to education and scientific careers for all, irrespective of gender but also ethnicity and other characteristics that often form the basis of discrimination.”
The Adams Prize is named after the mathematician John Couch Adams and was endowed by members of St John’s College at Cambridge. It commemorates Adams’s role in the discovery of the planet Neptune, through calculation of the discrepancies in the orbit of Uranus.
The prize includes approximately £30,000 in funding, part of which will be dedicated to supporting the winners’ research.
Previous winners from Imperial College London include Professor Claudia de Rham, from the Department of Physics, and Professor Gustav Holzegel, from the Department of Mathematics, for their work on “The gravitational rainbow beyond Einstein gravity”, and Dr Sheehan Olver for his work on computational mathematics (previous Oxford University), now at Imperial’s Department of Mathematics.
Previous women AWARDED the Adams Prize:
- 2019 – Professor Heather Harrington (Oxford) on the Mathematics of Networks
- 2019 – Professor Luitgard Veraart (London School of Economics and Political Science) on the Mathematics of Networks
- 2018 – Professor Claudia de Rham (Imperial College London) on the Mathematics of Astronomy and Cosmology
- 2012 – Professor Françoise Tisseur (Manchester) on Computational Mathematics
- 2002 – Dr Susan Howson (Nottingham) on Number Theory
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School of Public Health
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Dr Sabine L. van Elsland
School of Public Health
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