Imperial College London

Professor Christl Donnelly CBE FMedSci FRS

Faculty of MedicineSchool of Public Health

Visiting Professor



c.donnelly Website




School of Public HealthWhite City Campus





In addition to my Imperial role, I am Head of Department and Professor of Applied Statistics in the Department of Statistics at the University of Oxford

My research programme brings together and develops statistical and biomathematical methods to analyse epidemiological patterns of infectious diseases. I have worked on a variety of diseases. I also have interests in ecology, conservation and animal welfare.

Statistical Epidemiology

I use rigorous parameter estimation and hypothesis testing to gain the robust insights from dynamical models of disease transmission, demography and interventions.

My research programme aims to improve our understanding of (and ability to predict) the effect of interventions on infectious agent transmission dynamics and population structure. The ultimate goal is to make control strategies as effective as they can be. Without good estimates of epidemiological parameters and knowledge of the associated uncertainty in them, control programmes and preventive measures cannot be designed optimally nor evaluated appropriately.

Such research involves the development of new methods due to the complexities of infectious disease systems – but always driven by the need to answer practical questions. For example:

  • Who is at greatest risk of SAR-CoV-2 infection right now?
  • Will culling badgers reduce the incidence of bovine TB in cattle?  How might cattle vaccination reduce disease risk within a herd?
  • How can modified mosquitoes help reduce the risks of dengue?
  • How many MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) infections have there been been in the Middle East to date?

Through this research, I have provided quantitative scientific advice to government on COVID-19, bovine TB, FMD and TSEs (including BSE, vCJD and scrapie). In this context I served as the deputy chairman of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (1998-2007) advising government on research and overseeing a large randomized trial of badger culling strategies. I am currently on the Royal Statistical Society's COVID-19 Task Force (2020-).

In addition to providing science-based policy advice, I am interested in promoting the public understanding of epidemiology and statistics – making the conclusions from important results accessible to a wide audience.

I was elected Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2016 and Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci) in 2015. I was an honorary fellow of the ZSL Institute of Zoology.

RBCT map (small)

Randomised Badger Culling Trial areas.  Map of proactively culled (shaded), reactively culled (hatched) and unculled survey-only (open) trial areas of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial. [Donnelly CA et al.  Positive and negative effects of widespread badger culling on tuberculosis in cattle. Nature 439, 843-846, 2006.]

Imperial College's short course, "Introduction to Mathematical Models of the Epidemiology & Control of Infectious Diseases", is aimed at public health professionals, policy-makers and researchers who want to learn about the basic principles and practical applications of mathematical modelling and modern quantitative methods. For more information please see

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Elliott P, Eales O, Steyn N, et al., 2022, Twin peaks: the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 BA.1 and BA.2 epidemics in England

Elliott P, Bodinier B, Eales O, et al., 2022, Rapid increase in Omicron infections in England during December 2021: REACT-1 study., Science, Vol:375, ISSN:0036-8075, Pages:eabn8347-eabn8347

Elliott P, Haw D, Wang H, et al., 2021, Exponential growth, high prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 and vaccine effectiveness associated with Delta variant, Science, Vol:374, ISSN:0036-8075, Pages:1-11

Redding DW, Gibb R, Dan-Nwafor CC, et al., 2021, Geographical drivers and climate-linked dynamics of Lassa fever in Nigeria, Nature Communications, Vol:12, ISSN:2041-1723, Pages:1-10

Riley S, Ainslie KEC, Eales O, et al., 2021, Resurgence of SARS-CoV-2: detection by community viral surveillance, Science, Vol:372, ISSN:0036-8075, Pages:990-995

Nouvellet P, Bhatia S, Cori A, et al., 2021, Reduction in mobility and COVID-19 transmission, Nature Communications, Vol:12, ISSN:2041-1723

Lavezzo E, Franchin E, Ciavarella C, et al., 2020, Suppression of a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in the Italian municipality of Vo', Nature, Vol:584, ISSN:0028-0836, Pages:425-429

Gibb R, Redding DW, Chin KQ, et al., 2020, Zoonotic host diversity increases in human-dominated ecosystems., Nature, Vol:584, ISSN:0028-0836, Pages:398-402

Walker PGT, Whittaker C, Watson OJ, et al., 2020, The impact of COVID-19 and strategies for mitigation and suppression in low- and middle-income countries, Science, Vol:369, ISSN:0036-8075, Pages:413-422

Agua-Agum J, Ariyarajah A, Blake IM, et al., 2015, Ebola virus disease among children in West Africa, New England Journal of Medicine, Vol:372, ISSN:1533-4406, Pages:1274-1277

Agua-Agum J, Ariyarajah A, Aylward B, et al., 2015, West African Ebola epidemic after one year - slowing but not yet under control, New England Journal of Medicine, Vol:372, ISSN:1533-4406, Pages:584-587

WHO Ebola Response Team, 2014, Ebola virus disease in West Africa — The first 9 months of the epidemic and forward projections, New England Journal of Medicine, Vol:371, ISSN:0028-4793, Pages:1481-1495

Bielby J, Donnelly CA, Pope LC, et al., 2014, Badger responses to small-scale culling may compromise targeted control of bovine tuberculosis, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol:111, ISSN:0027-8424, Pages:9193-9198

Cauchemez S, Fraser C, Van Kerkhove MD, et al., 2014, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus: quantification of the extent of the epidemic, surveillance biases, and transmissibility, Lancet Infectious Diseases, Vol:14, ISSN:1473-3099, Pages:50-56

Godfray HCJ, Donnelly CA, Kao RR, et al., 2013, A restatement of the natural science evidence base relevant to the control of bovine tuberculosis in Great Britain, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol:280, ISSN:0962-8452

Donnelly CA, Woodroffe R, 2012, Reduce uncertainty in UK badger culling, Nature, Vol:485, ISSN:0028-0836, Pages:582-582

Donnelly CA, Finelli L, Cauchemez S, et al., 2011, Serial Intervals and the Temporal Distribution of Secondary Infections within Households of 2009 Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1): Implications for Influenza Control Recommendations, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Vol:52, ISSN:1058-4838, Pages:S123-S130

Jenkins HE, Aylward RB, Gasasira A, et al., 2010, Implications of a Circulating Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus in Nigeria., New England Journal of Medicine, Vol:362, ISSN:0028-4793, Pages:2360-2369

Cauchemez S, Donnelly CA, Reed C, et al., 2009, Household Transmission of 2009 Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) Virus in the United States, New England Journal of Medicine, Vol:361, ISSN:0028-4793, Pages:2619-2627

Fraser C, Donnelly CA, Cauchemez S, et al., 2009, Pandemic Potential of a Strain of Influenza A (H1N1): Early Findings, Science, Vol:324, ISSN:0036-8075, Pages:1557-1561

Donnelly CA, Woodroffe R, Cox DR, et al., 2006, Positive and negative effects of widespread badger culling on tuberculosis in cattle, Nature, Vol:439, ISSN:0028-0836, Pages:843-846

Donnelly CA, Woodroffe R, Cox DR, et al., 2003, Impact of localized badger culling on tuberculosis incidence in British cattle, Nature, Vol:426, ISSN:0028-0836, Pages:834-837

Riley S, Fraser C, Donnelly CA, et al., 2003, Transmission dynamics of the etiological agent of SARS in Hong Kong: impact of public health interventions, Science, Vol:300, Pages:1961-1966

Donnelly CA, Ghani AC, Leung GM, et al., 2003, Epidemiological determinants of spread of causal agent of severe acute respiratory syndrome in Hong Kong, The Lancet, Vol:361, ISSN:0140-6736, Pages:1761-1766

Ferguson NM, Donnelly CA, Anderson RM, 2001, Transmission intensity and impact of control policies on the foot and mouth epidemic in Great Britain, Nature, Vol:413, ISSN:0028-0836, Pages:542-548

Ferguson NM, Donnelly CA, Anderson RM, 2001, The foot-and-mouth epidemic in Great Britain: Pattern of spread and impact of interventions, Science, Vol:292, ISSN:0036-8075, Pages:1155-1160

Donnelly CA, 2000, Likely size of the French BSE epidemic - Epidemiological analysis helps in evaluating the potential risks of eating French beef., Nature, Vol:408, ISSN:0028-0836, Pages:787-788

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