Dr. Rosalind Eggo, an Associate Professor in Infectious Disease Modelling at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), has been awarded over £1.9 million in funding to advance research into the causes of health inequalities and the associated burden of infectious diseases across England.
The funding is provided through the award of a UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowship (FLF).
Health inequalities are avoidable differences in health outcomes that may be based on factors such as income, ethnic background, education, age, gender, or disability.
The research will enhance understanding of how infections and chronic diseases are distributed among various groups in England and will explore factors that may be associated with an increased risk of infection and the development of chronic diseases, such as poor access to healthcare or health disparities between ethnic groups.
The project will analyze health data from over 20 million people across England using the OpenSAFELY research platform. In addition to researchers, patient advisors will be recruited to share their experiences and participate in the study.
The research will also involve developing transmission models to assess interventions that can reduce the identified health inequalities, such as changes to vaccination programs or improved access to treatments.
Dr. Eggo, who is also the co-director of the Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases (CMMID) at LSHTM, stated:
„COVID-19 has really shown how unequal infectious diseases are in the UK and that we need to better understand why these disparities occur, not only with COVID-19 but with many infections.
“There are many reasons why some groups are more frequently infected compared to others, such as having more social contacts due to their work or behavior.”
“What is worrying and forms the basis of my research are the geographical differences in infections among different groups and how this can have long-term implications for their health.”
“We need to find out why there are differences in health outcomes, what role the transmission of infectious diseases plays in their emergence and maintenance, and how difficult they are to resolve.”
“By identifying health inequalities across England and considering all contributing factors, we can develop real interventions that improve the health of all.”
Dr. Eggo is one of 75 Future Leaders Fellows listed in the UKRI announcement from December 2023, where funding was awarded for projects addressing significant global challenges.
UKRI Chief Executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, who announced the awards last week, stated:
„The UKRI’s Future Leaders Fellowships provide long-term support and training to researchers and innovators, giving them the freedom to explore adventurous new ideas and build dynamic careers that transcend sectors and disciplines.
“The recipients announced today illustrate how this program empowers talented researchers and innovators to build the diverse and interconnected research and innovation system that we need to shorten the distance between discovery and prosperity across the UK.”
Researchers can apply for two upcoming fellowship rounds, expected in the summer of 2024 and 2025. An early call for Round 9 will be released in the coming weeks by UKRI.
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)