PhD student using viral phylodynamics and mathematical modelling to investigate HIV-1 transmission in East Africa.
I'm Emma, a global health, cat and karaoke enthusiast hoping to enjoy travelling again soon. You'll find me wrapping my head around bioinformatics, phylogenetics and mathematical modelling to investigate HIV-1 transmission in East African epidemics.
In 2018, I graduated from University College London (UCL) with a First Class Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Sciences, where I started to tailor my work towards infectious diseases. My final-year dissertation focused on developing a novel, less time-consuming approach for screening multi-drug resistant M. tuberculosis , a laboratory-based project which embedded me in the UCL Centre for Clinical Microbiology.
By the end of my undergraduate degree I knew that I wanted to focus my career on epidemiology, global health and infectious disease control so I moved down the road to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), where in 2019 I obtained a Master of Science degree with Distinction in Control of Infectious Diseases. My MSc thesis involved two months of fieldwork in the Peruvian Amazon (Amazonia ICEMR), where I investigated the effect of blood-meal source on Anopheles mosquito fitness and the transmission potential of P. vivax malaria.
In 2019, I joined the Wellcome Trust Hosts, Pathogens and Global Health 4-year PhD Programme at the University of Edinburgh. In 2020, I was awarded an MSc by Research with Distinction in light of the three independent research projects that I carried out during the first year of the programme: the first on using peptide microarrays to determine the efficacy of childhood vaccinations, the second on characterising HIV-1 infections in a rural East African population and the third on elucidating isometamidium chloride mode of action in T. congolense.
My PhD research builds upon the work I carried out during the second rotation of my MRes. As part of the Leigh Brown and Atkins research groups, I aim
to use viral phylogenetics, epidemiology and mathematical modelling to investigate the evolutionary dynamics of HIV-1 transmission networks in regional East African epidemics, to ultimately inform the design and evaluation of HIV prevention interventions.
Currently, I am analysing HIV-1 sequences from rural Uganda and Kenya collected during the SEARCH trial, to understand whether viral dynamics are a contributing factor to the unsatisfactory results being reported by several large-scale universal test-and-treat (UTT) HIV intervention trials.
In later years I expect to apply the same analysis to sequences from other populations, and to use stochastic modelling approaches to further investigate the impact of ART rollout and other public health interventions on HIV-1 transmission in structured populations.
Institute of Evolutionary Biology
University of Edinburgh
Charlotte Auerbach Road