Respiratory Viruses in Care Homes: Development of Transmission Models

The University of Manchester

The objective of the 2 PhD studentships are to develop simulation-based models to explore the transmission of respiratory viral pathogens in vulnerable settings. Hypotheses to be tested include how transmission may be modified by different interventions, including testing regimes, vaccination and isolation and empirically verified. The data sets from UK Health Security Agency work in the London care homes during the COVID pandemic provide a unique resource, combining epidemiological, serological, molecular detection and genomic information from about 3,400 residents and staff in London care homes. This data was sampled over a period covering the start of the pandemic and subsequent waves of variant viruses. The data collected have no parallel in the UK as this was the only study to include whole home testing and genetic analysis of viruses linked to periodic serological testing of staff and residents. Outbreak investigations were undertaken to assess the impact of incursion of different SARS-CoV-2 variants linked to vaccination status of individuals. Existing work has been descriptive so far and we believe there is a huge potential for the consolidated data to be used for the development of dynamic transmission models which seek to explore the spread of respiratory viral infection in closed settings. As a comparator to SARS-Cov-2 the supervisory team hold a unique dataset from the WHO smallpox eradication programme which will offer insights to control of infectious diseases over spatially distributed scales in different era and location. This work can further add value by quantification of impacts and extrapolation to other settings. There is a strong opportunity to engage and involve the residents and staff in this research and actively collect data such as on contact patterns within settings.

The duration of the PhD is 3.5 years and the start date is September.

Entry requirements:

Applicants should have or expect to achieve at least a 2.1 honours degree in Mathematics, Statistics, Informatics or other quantitative discipline.

How to apply:

You will need to submit an online application through our website here:

When you apply, you will be asked to upload the following supporting documents: 

• Final Transcript and certificates of all awarded university level qualifications

• Interim Transcript of any university level qualifications in progress

• CV

• You will be asked to supply contact details for two referees on the application form

• English Language certificate

We strongly recommend that you contact the supervisor to discuss the application before you apply. The email address for Prof Ian Hall is .

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact. We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status.

 We also support applications from those returning from a career break or other roles. We consider offering flexible study arrangements (including part-time: 50%, 60% or 80%, depending on the project/funder). 

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