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PhD opportunity investigating the role of climate, cities and connectivity in the expansion of dengue, Zika and other vector-borne diseases in Brazil

The aim of this PhD studentship is to develop new methods to statistically model the spread of vector-borne diseases in Brazil, which will consider hierarchical dependency structures between urban centres in the modelling framework, as well as climate and socio-economic factors. Accounting for connectivity within the Brazilian urban network will facilitate identification of key urban centres for disease diffusion and understand the recent explosive expansion of Zika across the country. This will help to predict future disease risk and design effective disease control and prevention strategies. The PhD student, in collaboration with a multi-disciplinary team of scientists in Brazil and the UK, will have the opportunity to develop new methodologies to address the global challenge of quantifying the risk of emerging disease threats to society.

This studentship offers an interdisciplinary programme of professional training in Bayesian statistics, meteorology and epidemiology. Through a well-established network of collaborative partners, the student will have the chance to interact with experts in the field, international organisations and high class international research institutions in Brazil to gain an in-depth understanding of the recent overlapping epidemics of dengue and Zika virus in Brazil and to develop solutions to help decision makers increase resilience to disease spread in the future.

The project will be supervised by Dr Rachel Lowe, Dr Theo Economou and Prof. John Edmunds. The studentship will be based in the Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health. The Faculty is multi-disciplinary and encompasses epidemiologists, mathematical modellers, medical statisticians, medical demographers, health economists, social scientists and public health practitioners. The successful candidates will also spend time at the University of Exeter and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The award will cover a tax-free stipend of £16,777 per year and tuition fees (at the home/EU student rate).

The PhD programme offers a generous training package, including courses in Bayesian methods, computational statistics, remote sensing and earth observations data acquisition at internationally renowned institutions across Europe and USA. Long-term visits to Brazil to gather data, understand public health policy priorities and align modelling efforts with stakeholder needs are also included as well as the opportunity to present results at international conferences.

The student will be part of the Centre for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases, a vibrant and interdisciplinary centre with regular journal clubs, seminars and meetings. The centre organises two short courses every year (one on mathematical modelling, and one on advanced topics for fitting models to data), which the student will be able to attend. The student can also attend up to 4 MSc modules per academic year free of charge, including distance learning modules.

In summary, this studentship will provide a young scientist with excellent experience and training in how to conduct cutting-edge international interdisciplinary research, to better understand the role of climate, cities and connectivity in the expansion of dengue, Zika and other vector-borne diseases both in Brazil and worldwide.

PhD position
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Closing date
August 13th, 2018
Posted on
June 26th, 2018 15:57
Last updated
June 26th, 2018 15:57