Life on the Edge (of the Science/Policy Interface)
Christl Donnelly, FMEDSCI FRS
Professor of Statistical Epidemiology
Faculty of Medicine, School of Public Health
Imperial College London
Ebola, MERS, pandemic influenza, SARS and Zika have all posed serious threats to our health and economic wellbeing in recent years. In each of these cases, statistical (and more broadly mathematical) epidemiologists contributed to top-level policy discussions of diseases control policy development, implementation and contingency planning. The methods build upon foundations of epidemiological modelling and analysis of both human and animal diseases (HIV/AIDS, BSE, vCJD and foot-and-mouth disease, among others). The potential impact of such analyses is enormous, but it can be challenging to provide robust answers to key scientific and policy questions. In the midst of an epidemic response effort, it really does feel like living on the edge.
Prof Christl Donnelly FMedSci, FRS is a statistician and epidemiologist studying the spread and control of infectious diseases, with a particular interest in outbreaks. Having graduated from Mishawaka High School in 1984, she studied mathematics (BA) at Oberlin College and biostatistics (MSc, ScD) at Harvard School of Public Health, graduating in 1992. Following a lecturer position at University of Edinburgh (1992-95), she joined the Wellcome Trust Centre for the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases at University of Oxford (1995-00). Since 2000, she has worked at Imperial College London. Christl has studied Zika virus, Ebola, MERS, influenza, SARS, bovine TB, foot-and-mouth disease, rabies, cholera, dengue, BSE/vCJD, malaria and HIV/AIDS. She is a leading member of the WHO Ebola Response Team (2014-). She was also deputy chair of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (1998-2007) which designed, oversaw and analysed the Randomised Badger Culling Trial. In addition to epidemiology and disease control, she is interested in conservation and animal welfare. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and an Honorary Fellow of the Zoological Society of London.