Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

Summer school focuses on infectious disease research

International initiative helps early career scientists develop their skills in studying infectious diseases.

An international summer school in Sweden has enabled early career scientists to develop valuable skills in infectious disease modelling and control.

The week-long programme, delivered with help from experts from the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems and the Roslin Institute, gave hands-on training to 16 early career scientists from across Europe.

The course was organised by Professor Andrea Doeschl-Wilson from the Roslin Institute as a joint initiative with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), where Professor Doeschl-Wilson holds a guest professorship.

The course was taught by leading scientists in mathematical epidemiology and quantitative genetics from Scotland and Sweden. These included Professor Doeschl-Wilson and Dr Smaragda Tsairidou from the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems, together with Dr Lena Tamminen from the SLU, Professor Tom Britton of Stockholm University, and Dr Chris Pooley of Biomathematics & Statistics Scotland.

Skills development

The programme, delivered in a manor house in Södermanland, Sweden, related to statistical and genetic analyses of infectious disease data and understanding and modelling disease spread.

Participants developed their skills in in epidemiological and quantitative genetics theory and computational tools applied to infectious diseases.

In a team competition, participants were tasked to combine their newly acquired skills with existing expertise to design modelling and sampling strategies to eradicate one of the UK’s most persistent animal diseases.

The course was heavily over-subscribed and all who took part agreed that they would recommend this course to fellow scientists. Organisers plan to hold a similar programme in Edinburgh in the near future, supported by the University’s Easter Bush Hub DDI Talent team.

The course was funded by the Nordic Forestry, Veterinary and Agricultural University Network (NOVA) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

The Covid pandemic has taught us that effective control of infectious diseases requires multi-disciplinary approaches. Based on the quality of the team work I have seen from course participants, the future of infectious disease control is in good hands.

Professor Andrea Doeschl-WilsonRoslin Institute and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences