Posted on by John Drake on Areas of interest


My work in theoretical epidemiology focuses on developing models, data pipelines, and analysis for combating animal and human diseases.

As part of the MIDAS network, I organized a working group that developed models in near real time during the 2013-2015 epidemic. Our first Ebola project sought to quantify the potential severity of the epidemic under different intervention scenarios. We then extended this to look at the relative importance of direct and sexual contact in spreading the virus, the different bat species that carry Ebola and related viruses, the environmental triggers that result in spillover, and patterns of spatial spread in West Africa. A complete list of Ebola-related papers is available here.

In collaboration with Drew Kramer, I am developing models for the spread of White-nose syndrome — an emerging fungal pathogen of bats. This work seeks to understand how contagious processes evolve on complex social and environmental networks. We’ve studied how geographic features and climate change affect the spread of the disease and are now working on computer-based models for optimizing interventions.

My studies on Avian influenza virus helped to show how the ecology of wild birds maintains a diverse gene pool from which future human strains might emerge, how highly pathogenic and avirulent strains of influenza coexist, and the role of environmental transmission in outbreaks.

Other projects have looked at Zika, West Nile virus, Whooping cough, malaria, dengue, and Rift Valley fever.