Young Yale researcher honored for models for coping with disease outbreaks

Alison Galvani, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Heath, has received the New York Academy of Sciences Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists for her work in developing mathematical models of disease outbreaks.

Alison Galvani
Alison Galvani

The models developed by Galvani have led to reexamination of public policy in dealing with several forms of disease outbreaks, including influenza, drug-resistant tuberculosis, rabies, and human papilloma virus.

The awards honor innovative young scientists under the age of 42 working in life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering. The prizes go to both faculty and postdoctoral researchers. Faculty winners receive awards of $25,000; Galvani, age 35, was one of four faculty winners this year.

Galvani uses applied mathematics, economics, psychology, and principles of evolutionary ecology to devise optimal strategies for dealing with disease prevention efforts. For instance, her work showed that the most effective vaccinations strategy against influenza is to focus first on school-age individuals, who are most likely to transmit the virus, rather than the elderly or immune-compromised, who are more likely to suffer severe health problems from the flu.

Her research has also influenced decisions on rotavirus vaccinations in the United Kingdom and rabies vaccination in Tanzania.

“Alison’s work on modeling epidemics and prevention strategies is pathbreaking and internationally recognized for its innovation, rigor, and significance,” said Paul D. Cleary, dean of the Yale School of Public Health. “The Blavatnik Award is a wonderful honor that appropriately recognizes her brilliant research.”

Health & Medicine