The University of Oxford has conferred the title of Associate Professor to Yoel Lubell, Head of Economics and Translational Research, to Olivo Miotto from the Centre for Genomics and Global Health, and to Ronald Geskus from OUCRU. Louise Thwaites, Clinical Research Fellow at OUCRU, our sister unit in Vietnam, was appointed University Research Lecturer.
Based in MORU's Mathematical/Economic Modelling (MAEMOD) Department in Bangkok, Thailand, Professor Yoel Lubell leads the Economics and Translational Research Group (ETRG). ETRG focuses on the evaluation of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines for malaria and other infectious diseases. These evaluations are pursued using a variety of approaches ranging from economic and epidemiological modelling through laboratory investigations to clinical trials and qualitative research. Our ultimate aim is to provide policy makers with pragmatic and context specific assessments of the impact of new interventions if implemented in routine care. Where relevant we strive to take a broader view of the costs and benefits of new interventions accounting for factors such as their indirect impact on disease transmission and antimicrobial resistance as well as how such interventions’ cost-effectiveness varies in different epidemiological and socio-economic contexts or due to factors such as patents and health workers’ acceptance.
Professor Olivo Miotto focuses on translating the massive quantities of data produced by sequencing thousands of genomes into meaningful knowledge about the epidemiology of Plasmodium falciparum. By analyzing hundreds of thousands of genomic variations in each blood sample, he studies the genetics of parasite populations in four continents, and identifies patterns of evolution associated to responses to drug pressure and other human interventions. Based at MORU in Bangkok, Olivo collaborates with many clinical research groups in malaria endemic regions, particularly in Southeast Asia, to study relationships between response to clinical therapy and genetics of the disease-causing parasites in the patient. In the early stages, the focus is on immediate problems, such as discovering mutations causing resistance to current drugs, such as artemisinin. However, Olivo's longer-term perspective is to create tools that will identify patterns in thousands of accumulated genomic sequences, leading to a deep understanding of parasite evolution and, ultimately, to interventions that will win the struggle against the disease.