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Details of talk

TitleAn epidemic of a thousand people starts with a single infection
PresenterRoslyn Hickson (IBM Research Australia)
Author(s)Roslyn Hickson
SessionMathematical Biology
Time11:30:00 2017-09-26

Infectious diseases continue to be a significant global issue, with 21.2\% of
global deaths in 2015 due to communicable diseases and maternal, prenatal and
nutrition conditions. Due to a combination of factors, including distribution of
goods, urbanisation, and modern travel, the risk of `spillover events' (crossing
from another species to humans) is higher, and emerging infectious diseases
spread further and faster. Developed nations tend to be focussed on preventing
infectious diseases from (re-)entering, whilst developing nations tend to be
focussed on stopping outbreaks as early as possible to reduce the total number
of overall cases. The dynamics of infectious diseases are nonlinear and
complicated, and data collection is difficult and expensive. Furthermore,
randomised control trials are not an option, so any data collected must be done
so opportunistically. 

Mathematical modelling is a vital tool in the war on germs. There are
established models that are reasonable approximations of the transmission
dynamics, which make good use of the limited data available. My research the
past $\approx$7 years has been a combination of applying established techniques
to specific infectious diseases to determine likely impacts of intervention
strategies, and of improving the models and methods of transmission dynamics. In
this presentation, I will discuss my research journey in infectious disease
modelling, and where it has led my career. I will give specific examples of my
work on tuberculosis in the Torres Strait region, of working on the risk of
transmission of Ebola in the Asia Pacific region, and on exploring new
intervention impacts on dengue fever cases in Taiwan.