The COVID-19 pandemic has become a defining event of the 21st century.
New technologies such as ubiquitous smartphones and virus genome sequencing offer powerful new ways to understand virus transmission and to tackle the problem of epidemic spread. But can those new tools be deployed fast enough to make a real difference to public health? And can we balance the need for privacy with the life-saving benefits of understanding how transmission occurs?
Join Prof Christophe Fraser of Oxford’s Big Data Institute, who advises the UK’s NHS COVID-19 Tracing app, and Prof Oliver Pybus, Lead Researcher of the Oxford Martin School Programme on Pandemic Genomics, as they discuss the opportunities and challenges of successfully applying new technologies to pandemics past, present, and future.
Professor Christophe Fraser
Senior Group Leader in Pathogen Dynamics
Professor Christophe Fraser is Senior Group Leader in Pathogen Dynamics at the Big Data Institute, and Professor in the Nuffield Department of Medicine. He is interested in studying the population dynamics and epidemiology of pathogens, and translating this knowledge to public health. The primary tools used in his group are mathematical modelling and pathogen genomics.
He trained in theoretical particle physics, and converted to mathematical biology after his PhD, in 1998. He was Royal Society URF and then Professor in the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College before joining the BDI at Oxford in 2016.
He is a scientific advisor to the TUK’s NHS COVID-19 Tracing app.
Professor Oliver Pybus
Lead Researcher, Oxford Martin Programme on Pandemic Genomics
Oliver Pybus is Professor of Evolution & Infectious Disease at the Department of Zoology and a Professorial Fellow of New College, Oxford. He is a Lead Researcher of the Oxford Martin Programme on Pandemic Genomics and Chief Editor of the journal Virus Evolution.
His research aims to explain the evolutionary dynamics of pathogens, particularly viral infections of humans. He is fascinated by how evolutionary and ecological processes - which occur on the same timescale for many rapidly evolving infectious diseases - combine and interact in natural populations.
Professor Pybus studied genetics and computational biology, before coming to Oxford to complete his DPhil in evolutionary biology in the Department of Zoology. He develops new computational techniques for tracking and predicting virus transmission from genomic data.