The objective of this programme is to integrate genetic, epidemiological and clinical data to gain insight on the key processes that determine the circulation of respiratory viruses in the population, and how they impact on their epidemiology, evolution and disease outcome.
Acute respiratory infections (ARIs) have a significant global impact on public health and the general economy due to their high morbidity and mortality. Different viruses are the causative agents of most ARIs, and in some cases are also responsible for emerging infections such as the 2009 influenza pandemic, as well as spillover events (zoonotic infections with no onward transmission), such as MERS-CoV and avian-origin influenza A viruses (H7N9 and H5N1).
The respiratory tract constitutes an ecological niche that can be simultaneously or sequentially infected with several pathogens. While co-infections have been associated with more severe disease, community ecology studies suggest that co-infection patterns are likely to be affected by pathogen interactions. These interactions can have significant impact on infection risk and thus can influence pathogen dynamics at the population scale with important implications for the design of intervention measures. For example if two viruses exhibit antagonistic interactions, control measures against one can increase the incidence of the other.
Understanding the ecology, epidemiology and evolution of respiratory viruses and identifying the viral factors that impact on the outcome of respiratory disease is central to:
- improving patient management;
- developing better diagnostic tools;
- prioritizing pathogen specific surveillance and/or the development of vaccines and antiviral drugs;
- assisting the design of intervention measures to control them; and
- predicting the epidemiological impact of public health interventions.
To this end, it is important to apply a multi-pathogen approach that integrates the processes occurring within a single patient with those observed at the population scale.
Research interests: Our work investigates the molecular and evolutionary mechanisms that underpin host switching and viral emergence through two lines of investigation, influenza emergence & the virome of disease, by integrating multiple disciplines, from classical virology to mathematical modelling.
Research interests: My research addresses the ecology and evolution of viruses. This work is based on the principle that understanding long-term evolution and origin of viral species will allow the threat posed by contemporary viruses to be assessed and countered more effectively.