Imperial College London

Dr Zulma M Cucunubá

Faculty of MedicineSchool of Public Health

Honorary Lecturer







G27Medical SchoolSt Mary's Campus





I am an Infectious Disease Epidemiologist with more than 10 years of experience in the field.

I hold an academic appointment as Assistant Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia. I also hold a Honorary Lectureship position in the MRC Centre for Infectious Disease Analysis  at Imperial College London in the UK.

My background includes an MD at UPTC in Colombia, a Master of Public Health at Universidad Nacional de Colombia and a PhD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College London in the UK. I did a postdoc with the Vaccine Impact Modelling Consortium in the UK. In 2017, I was awarded the MRC Rutherford Fund Fellowship from the UK Research and Innovation.

Research Focus

My research focuses on using statistic and mathematical methods to understand the determinants of the spread of infection diseases and the impact of control strategies, with a particular focus in Latin America.

During 2020-21, my research has heavily focused on COVID-19 impact and control in Latin America. But, over the past 10 years, I have worked on other topics such as: vector-borne diseases, including Chagas disease, Zika, chikungunya and malaria, emerging infections and epidemic response as well as vaccine preventable diseases.

I am an avid R enthusiast for epidemic analytics and a member of the R Epidemics Consortium (RECON).


DICTUM - Decreasing the Impact of Chagas Disease Through Modelling. I lead this project in collaboration with Prof Maria-Gloria Basañez, and Dr Pierre Nouvellet. This is a collaboration between Imperial College London, Universidad Javeriana, the NTDs-Modelling Consortium, Princeton University and the Pan-American Health Organization. In this project, we are modelling the Force-of-Infection and measuring the impact on disease burden of Chagas disease across Latin American countries, as well as testing different modelling approaches to measure progress towards the achievement of WHO 2020 Goals for Chagas disease. 

ARBOVIRUSES:  I keep various projects on modelling and analysis of arboviruses in Latin America, including Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya, Mayaro and other alphaviruses.  These include supervision of masters and PhD students.

COVID-19 - I am part of the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team lead by Prof Neil Ferguson. I also lead various projects and collaborations on epidemiology and modelling of the impact of COVID-19 in Colombia, including supervision of masters students at Universidad Javeriana.



 The Vaccine Impact Modelling Consortium (VIMC) is a large project lead by Dr Tini Garske and supported by GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project includes over a dozen independent modelling groups in several institutions and countries. I am part of the Core Scientific Team that looks at modelling comparison, aggregation and quality standards for modelling the impact of vaccination programmes in low and middle-income countries, for a wide range of vaccine preventable diseases that includes:  Hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Japanese encephalitis (JE), Meningitis A, Measles, Pneumococcal disease, Rotavirus, Rubella and Yellow Fever.


Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Caicedo Y, Charniga K, Rueda A, et al., 2021, The epidemiology of Mayaro virus in the Americas: a systematic review and key parameter estimates for outbreak modelling, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Vol:15, ISSN:1935-2727

Vecino-Ortiz AI, Villanueva Congote J, Zapata Bedoya S, et al., 2021, Impact of contact tracing on COVID-19 mortality: an impact evaluation using surveillance data from Colombia, PLOS One, Vol:16, ISSN:1932-6203

Sabino EC, Buss LF, Carvalho MPS, et al., 2021, Resurgence of COVID-19 in Manaus, Brazil, despite high seroprevalence, The Lancet, Vol:397, ISSN:0140-6736, Pages:452-455

Li X, Mukandavire C, Cucunuba ZM, et al., 2021, Estimating the health impact of vaccination against ten pathogens in 98 low-income and middle-income countries from 2000 to 2030: a modelling study, The Lancet, Vol:397, ISSN:0140-6736, Pages:398-408

Eggo RM, Dawa J, Kucharski AJ, et al., 2021, The importance of local context in COVID-19 models, Nature Computational Science, Vol:1, Pages:6-8

Flaxman S, Mishra S, Gandy A, et al., 2020, Estimating the effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 in Europe, Nature, Vol:584, ISSN:0028-0836, Pages:257-261

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

Villar JC, Herrera VM, Pérez Carreño JG, et al., 2019, Nifurtimox versus benznidazole or placebo for asymptomatic Trypanosoma cruzi infection (Equivalence of Usual Interventions for Trypanosomiasis - EQUITY): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial, Trials, Vol:20, ISSN:1745-6215, Pages:431-431

Rodriguez-Mongui E, Cantillo-Barraza O, Prieto F, et al., 2019, Heterogeneity of Trypanosoma cruzi infection rates in vectors and animal reservoirs in Colombia: A systematic review and meta-analysis, Parasites & Vectors, Vol:12, ISSN:1756-3305

Routledge I, Chevéz JER, Cucunubá ZM, et al., 2018, Estimating spatiotemporally varying malaria reproduction numbers in a near elimination setting., Nat Commun, Vol:9

Cucunuba Perez Z, Nouvellet P, Peterson J, et al., 2018, Complementary paths to chagas disease elimination: the impact of combining vector control with aetiological treatment, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Vol:66, ISSN:1058-4838, Pages:S293-S300

Cucunuba Perez ZM, Nouvellet P, Conteh L, et al., 2017, Modelling historical changes in the force-of-infection of Chagas disease to inform control and elimination programmes: application in Colombia, Bmj Global Health, Vol:2, ISSN:2059-7908

Nouvellet P, Cucunuba ZM, Gourbiere S, 2015, Ecology, Evolution and Control of Chagas Disease: A Century of Neglected Modelling and a Promising Future, Advances in Parasitology, Vol:87, ISSN:0065-308X, Pages:135-191


Ainslie K, Walters C, Fu H, et al., 2020, Report 11: Evidence of initial success for China exiting COVID-19 social distancing policy after achieving containment

Ferguson N, Laydon D, Nedjati Gilani G, et al., 2020, Report 9: Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand

Thompson H, Imai N, Dighe A, et al., 2020, Report 7: Estimating infection prevalence in Wuhan City from repatriation flights

Bhatia S, Imai N, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, et al., 2020, Report 6: Relative sensitivity of international surveillance, Report 6: Relative sensitivity of international surveillance

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