[SPARK] Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases Short Course

SPARK short-course

Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases


· Course will be conducted at Mahidol University, Thailand

· Expressions of Interest (EOI): by 13 May 2022

· Applications close: 3rd June 2022

· Event to be held 4th to 8th July 2022


The course is aimed at participants with a basic understanding of infectious disease modelling and some basic programming skills. We will use the R programming language which is a freely available language and environment for statistical computing and graphics. To get the most out of this course, a pre-requisite for attending will be some basic understanding of R for mathematical modelling. We will provide introductory materials and applicants will be required work through the R-test provided and follow the recommendation based on the score obtained.

On completion of this course, participants will be able to write and analyse the dynamics of a simple mathematical model and use it to consider cost and intervention scenarios. Students will become more confident in using R programming for modelling infectious diseases.

We offer a limited number of fee-waiver scholarships to cover the course and materials and (where necessary) travel and accommodation. These will be based on merit and need and early to mid-career participants from low-to-middle income countries from the Indo-Pacific region will be prioritised.


Mathematical modelling was used by policy-makers like never before during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, and continues to be used by governments to guide vaccination strategies, border closures, physical distancing measures and other policies. The need for people with cross disciplinary skills is growing and this course aims to provide an introduction to the discipline which is hands-on and practical.

Mathematical modellers arrive at the discipline from STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), clinical and other backgrounds. Mathematical modelling is an interdisciplinary activity which benefits from the broad skills and experience base of its practitioners.

This modelling short-course provides basic practical skills in coding, in addition to understanding transmission dynamics which establish a foundation for further research or facilitate critical appraisal of mathematical modelling. A typical student will have studied the basics of infectious disease modelling and will have some preliminary (online or otherwise) training or aptitude in the R programming language.

The course will focus on COVID-19 and vector-borne diseases but will help develop generic skills in infectious diseases modelling, using the R programming language.


Your teachers come from diverse backgrounds including physicians, physicists, mathematicians and health-economists. The teachers of the course have developed the material over the last several years and provided short courses across Australia, in Thailand and at Oxford University. Teachers include:

  • Professor Emma McBryde: Infectious Diseases Physician, mathematical modeller

  • Associate Professor Wirichada Pan-ngum: Infectious Diseases Modeller

  • Dr Patricia Campbell: Mathematician, Infectious Diseases Modeller

  • Dr Michael Meehan: Physicist, Infectious Diseases Modeller


The course will include the following.

  • Course registration and materials

  • Lunch and breaks from Monday to Friday

  • Workshop dinner on Thursday night

Upon successful completion of the course, students will receive a certificate of completion from SPARK.


SPARK is offering scholarships to cover the course and materials and (if applicable) travel and living expenses in Thailand. These scholarships are particularly aimed at early-mid career researchers from low-to-middle income countries in the Indo-Pacific Region.


Applicants should contact follow a three-step process for the application:


Contact the course organisers to express interest in attending. The organisers will acknowledge receipt of your EOI and when the EOI deadline is passed will send you the pre-requisite R programming exercises and self-test. Email EOI to: spectrum-spark@unimelb.edu.au


Complete the R programming exercises and self-test sent by the organisers to assess your capacity to undertake this course at this time.


Based on your results from step 2, submit full application to attend the course and provide additional information for assessment of scholarship.

This offer is part of a competitive scheme run through SPARK and for the full applications, students must provide a CV and 200 word (max) paragraph outlining their reason for applying for support and how the successful completion of this course will contribute to their current studies and future career aspirations. These offers will be contingent on applicants completing the basic R exercises to demonstrate their familiarity with R programming, basic knowledge of which is a pre-requisite for attending this course.

EOI deadline: 13 May 2022 – email to spectrum-spark@unimelb.edu.au

Applications submitted to: https://forms.gle/KqGBSAMVB2KsJepr6

Submission deadline: 3 June 2022

Queries: spectrum-spark@unimelb.edu.au

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