Grants awarded

Immunity dynamics and epidemiology of cross-reactive pathogens

Grantholder:

Dr Adam Kucharski

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

United Kingdom

Infections such as dengue fever, Zika and influenza generate a substantial public heath burden. It is therefore crucial to understand the biological mechanisms driving infection and immunity in individuals, and how these shape population-level epidemic dynamics. However, people can experience multiple infections over the course of their lifetime, which makes it challenging to analyse immune responses and the implications for future outbreaks.

This project aims to address this knowledge gap using a combination of new mathematical methods and field studies. I will examine the human immune response to dengue, Zika and influenza viruses. I plan to untangle the different factors that influence observed patterns of immunity using new mathematical and statistical methods. As well as improving our knowledge of people’s life history of infection and immunity, the work will also guide the design of future field studies, enabling researchers to address a wider range of hypotheses about viruses such as influenza and dengue. In particular, I will investigate how immunity shapes influenza evolution, and the emergence (and re-emergence) of new infections in different areas.

With a better understanding of individual-level immune responses, it will also be possible to investigate the impact of immunity at the population level.