Imperial College London

Mr James Hay

Faculty of MedicineSchool of Public Health

Honorary Research Fellow



james.hay13 Website




13Praed StreetSt Mary's Campus





I am an MRC DTP PhD student in the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, supervised by Prof Steven Riley, Dr Nim Pathy and Dr Michael White. My PhD is focused on the population immunology of antigenically variable viruses, particularly influenza.


My favourite questions from my PhD are: how does repeated exposure to a multi-strain pathogen impact an individual's immune profile and what can this tell us about the population dynamics of the pathogen?

A central theme of my research is the interpretation of serological data to understand the life-course epidemiology of influenza. People are repeatedly exposed from infection and vaccination to many influenza strains over their lives, which makes interpreting measures of antibody profiles difficult. I use novel statistical methods combined with mathematical models of antibody kinetics and observations from animal models to understand how these complex antibody profiles are built. This allows us to answer questions such as: which strains of influenza has this person been infected with? What was the incidence of influenza infection during a given period of time? What will an individual's antibody profile look like after vaccination?

I am also interested in using mathematical modelling to answer public health questions in general. During 2016, I used publicly available incidence data to understand the link between Zika virus incidence and microcephaly. Like serological data, epidemiological data are generated by complex, hidden processes. By combining biological understanding with statistical methods, it is possible to quantitatively understand these processes and answer important public health questions.


I have an undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences (Part II Zoology) from Downing College, Cambridge. I then spent a year working in medical communications before studying for an MSc in Computing Science at Imperial College. I joined the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology in 2015 as a research assistant which led to my current position as a PhD student.



Minter A, Hoschler K, Jagne YJ, et al., 2020, Estimation of Seasonal Influenza Attack Rates and Antibody Dynamics in Children Using Cross-Sectional Serological Data, Journal of Infectious Diseases, Vol:225, ISSN:0022-1899, Pages:1750-1754

Hay JA, Laurie K, White M, et al., 2019, Characterising antibody kinetics from multiple influenza infection and vaccination events in ferrets, Plos Computational Biology, Vol:15

Hay JA, Nouvellet P, Donnelly CA, et al., 2018, Potential inconsistencies in Zika surveillance data and our understanding of risk during pregnancy, Plos Neglected Tropical Diseases, Vol:12, ISSN:1935-2727

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