DNRF Chair: Professor Samir Bhatt
Professor Samir Bhatt
May, 1, 2022 - April, 30, 2025
University of Copenhagen
Infectious disease epidemics and pandemics will continue to happen and will likely accelerate in frequency. This DNRF Chair serves to further develop expertise in Denmark on how to model infectious diseases, communicate risk to policymakers, and create tools for wider use. When the next emergency arises, this program will ensure that policymakers are better prepared and informed.
The Danish response to COVID-19 has shown the importance of surveillance and pandemic preparedness to mitigate the challenges imposed by an infectious disease epidemic. This research project serves to develop the fundamental mathematical tools to ensure preparedness when the next emergency arises.
This program focuses on four key areas
Phylogenetics: genomic information allows us to leverage shared evolutionary dynamics to infer events that have happened in the past, even when data does not exist. We will focus on novel methods for both small and large genomic data sets, with a special focus on the topology of trees.
Stochastic models: Forecasting and predicting the impact of interventions require a realistic model of how individuals are infected. In addition, policymakers need to be informed of the variety of risks that exist. We will develop new mathematical insights as well as useful computer code that puts the randomness inherent in infectious processes front and center.
Linking other aspects of society to infection: Other factors, such as economics, interact inextricably with the infection process and indeed affect it. We will consider how infection processes interact with complex social systems such as macroeconomics.
Contact patterns: Infections happen via contacts between infected individuals, but understanding the dynamics of these patterns remains poor. We will use novel data to try to uncover fundamental laws driving contact patterns and how these vary demographically. More broadly, the major goal of this program is to further develop expertise in Denmark on how to model infectious diseases, communicate risk to policymakers, and create tools for wider use. When the next emergency arises, this program will ensure that policymakers are better prepared and informed.