About Us: Theme Leads and Co-Leads

People and Places Theme:

Dan Hungerford, Theme Lead



Dan is an infectious disease epidemiologist with expertise in gastrointestinal infections and vaccines, with an interest in health inequalities. Dan holds a NIHR Post-doctoral Fellowship, and was recently appointed to a Tenure Track Fellowship position within the NIHR HPRU in Gastrointestinal Infections. During his career he has worked across academia, Public Health England and the NHS. Dan’s NIHR Fellowship is multi-disciplinary, combining epidemiology, laboratory science and modelling to predict risk of rotavirus diarrhoea in vaccinated children. Dan is also the epidemiologist for the European Rotavirus Surveillance Network (EuroRotaNet) and is leading the field work for the Liverpool household COVID-19 cohort study, COVID-LIV. Dan has 25+ peer-reviewed publications and has contributed to multiple externally funded research projects (totalling £2 Million to date).

Sooria Balasegaram, UK Health Security Agency Co-Lead




Philip is an Associate Professor in Public Health at the Warwick Medical School. He is an Epidemiologist with research interests in infectious disease epidemiology, social epidemiology, digital health, and social and public health policy evaluation. He has led research projects evaluating the mechanism of impact of policies on antimicrobial stewardship, smoking in adults and children, COVID-19, and the inequalities therein.  

Philip is interested in developing and evaluating digital technologies in health, especially in LMICs, and looking to build on this at WMS. He is part of a project team digitalising maternal patient records at the University Hospital Ibadan, Nigeria, to develop a digital sepsis alert system for this patient group. 

Data and Informatics Theme:

Iain Buchan, Theme Lead


Iain Buchan is Executive Dean for Population Health and Chair in Public Health and Clinical Informatics at the University of Liverpool, and Director of Digital Strategy and Partnerships for Liverpool Health Partners. He previously founded a grew the UK’s largest health informatics research team at Manchester, raising over £100m in funding and publishing over 250 papers. Iain has spawned new scientific, engineering, and social approaches to health data, including the impactful Connected Health Cities and the #DataSavesLives movement (www.datasaveslives.info) and drove productive MRC investment such as www.herc.ac.uk and various building block of the current Health Data Research UK and forerunner Farr Institute. He holds qualifications in pharmacology, clinical medicine, public health, statistics and informatics. He has been driving digital innovation projects for over 30 years and wrote widely used statistical software. He is a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, and drove new methods before they became popular, including causal machine learning in epidemiology, research objects, learning health systems and digital twin / health avatar. Public health challenges drive Iain’s research – he has published in areas such as inequalities and obesity and used this societal grounding for informatics and data science. Among his new projects in Liverpool is the Liverpool City Region Civic Data Cooperative promoting ethical data uses and Tech-for-Good research & innovation.

Alex Elliot, UK Heath Security Agency Co-Lead


Dr Elliot works as a consultant epidemiologist for the UK Heath Security Agency Real-time Syndromic Surveillance Team. He is the national lead for syndromic surveillance and has over 15 years’ experience of establishing national real-time syndromic systems and delivering a real-time service. These systems provide information on community illness in ‘real-time’ to support public health incidents such as: COVID-19; seasonal GI and respiratory activity; mass gatherings; and environmental events such as flooding/air pollution/heatwaves. The national and local outputs from the suite of syndromic surveillance systems are widely used by PHE and other organisations.
Alex has over 100 peer review publications and book chapters within the field of syndromic surveillance. He is currently supervising a number of PhD students and holds an Honorary Associate Professorship at the University of Warwick.

Matt Keeling, University of Warwick Co-Lead



Matt's research focuses on the three E's: Epidemiology, Evolution and Ecology. He is particularly interested in how spatial structure, heterogeneities and stochasticity affect the emergent population-level dynamics; as such his work uses a wide range of modelling tools and concepts. While large-scale simulations do play a substantial role in his work, he's also very keen to develop simple modelling techniques that can capture the important dynamics of a system. The lists below give a flavour of his research interests:

Epidemiology: Optimal control of infection, cost-effective vaccination, policy-relevant prediction, within-host immunological dynamics. Disease include: Foot-and-mouth disease, Avian influenza, and Bovine tuberculosis in livestock; and Measles, Whooping Cough, (seasonal and pandemic) Influenza, Pneumococcal infection and Neglected Tropical Diseases in humans.
Evolution: Disease evolution, host response to infection
Ecology: Bacteria-phage interactions, spatial habit-use, sea-grass dynamics, quantifying process from pattern..
Development of novel techniques: Pair-wise correlation models, Moment-closure approximations, Meta-population models, Kolmorgorov Forward Equations, Vector dynamics.

Pathogens and Microbiomes Theme:

 Xavier Didelot, Theme Lead


Xavier Didelot studied for his doctorate in the Department of Statistics at the University of Oxford, and carried postdoctoral research work in Warwick and Oxford. He also previously worked for several years in the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College London, before taking his current appointment as Professor of Statistical Epidemiology and Genomics at the University of Warwick. Xavier Didelot's research is concerned with understanding the way bacterial pathogens evolve, spread and cause disease. He has analysed both epidemiological and genomic data from a wide range of bacteria. A key aim is to develop new bioinformatics and statistical methods that can handle the very large amounts of data made available by novel high-throughput sequencing techniques.

Paolo Ribeca, UK Heath Security Agency Co-Lead




Alistair Darby, University of Liverpool Co-Lead




Predict and Prevent Theme:

Noel McCarthy, Theme Lead


Noels background is in medicine, statistics and public health epidemiology. As a public health doctor and researcher, his main focus has been on the control of infectious diseases. His main research theme has been in integrating bacterial population genetics in the public health epidemiology of human infections and disease. His wider research interests focus on developing and applying quantitative and novel research methods to practical public health problems. In this regard, "focus" may be a misnomer as this work is diverse as per published papers accessible via Google Scholar https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=ldL_TBoAAAAJ&hl=en.


Claire Jenkins, UK Heath Security Agency Co-Lead




Kate Baker, University of Liverpool Co-Lead



Kate trained and worked as a veterinarian in Australia before moving to the UK to complete her PhD at the University of Cambridge and Institute of Zoology, London. She then took up a postdoctoral position at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and began working on the genomic epidemiology of enteric bacterial pathogens. Since 2016 she has led an applied microbial genomics group at the University of Liverpool which combines both wet laboratory and computational approaches to understanding the emergence and persistence of infectious disease and the ecological dynamics of antimicrobial resistance in bacterial pathogens with a view to creating insight and interventions for public health.