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Digging deeper into genes to track infectious disease outbreaks

Project description

Expertise in phylodynamics for public and animal health

Deadly viruses like Ebola have proven the importance of knowledge in dealing with infectious diseases. Scientific studies on genetic data help us to better understand viruses’ spreading mechanisms and assist in the design of global managing patterns responding to public and animal health dangers. The EU-funded DIGDEEP project will develop new global control strategies to minimise the consequences of large epidemics on health and economy. They will address emergencies like the new avian influenza viruses (AIV). Advanced epidemiological, immunological and evolutionary inference methods will help to study and characterise main determinants of viral transmission. It will also detect possibilities of spill-over between species to shape new effective interventions based on scientific expertise.


Successful public and animal health interventions require detailed knowledge of infectious disease transmission dynamics, in particular how they spread within and between populations. Recent advances in phylodynamics have largely contributed towards the understanding of epidemic spread, including Ebola, HIV and MERS-CoV, by integrating epidemiological and genetic data. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the emergence of new avian influenza viruses (AIV) with high pandemic potential have underlined the need for established global mechanisms to respond to public and animal health threats. To this end, DIGDEEP aims at developing alternative control strategies tailored to the characteristics of AIV evolution and transmission in order to minimize the global economic and health impact of the epidemics. The project will use cutting-edge phylodynamic inference methods to explore devastating and unprecedented epidemics of AIV in Europe and Asia. The outcomes of the project will allow us to infer key epidemiological parameters of the virus spread, such as the basic reproduction number or the likelihood of spillover between host species, and characterize the determinants of the epidemics, such as the importance of population structure or super-spreaders. DIGDEEP will also help to assess the effectiveness of public and animal health interventions in bringing the epidemic under control which are crucial for a well-informed response. Throughout the project, the fellow will gain a strong experience in phylodynamic inference methods, complementing her experience in epidemiology of infectious disease transmission. DIGDEEP will consolidate her scientific expertise in the field of public and animal health and develop transferable skills in team-working, communication and project management, which will be paramount to boost her career as a successful and internationally-recognized researcher.


Net EU contribution
€ 203 149,44
Raemistrasse 101
8092 Zuerich

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Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera Zürich Zürich
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00