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Dr Anna Foss

Associate Professor

United Kingdom

I joined LSHTM in July 2001 after graduating with a Masters of Mathematics Honours Degree (First Class) from the University of Manchester.

Alongside my early work at LSHTM, I completed a part-time staff-PhD (awarded June 2007), titled: 'Mathematical modelling of HIV/STI transmission and prevention: methodological issues when dealing with uncertainty'.

In June 2010, I was awarded a Distinction for my Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching (Full Certificate - Modules 1 and 2) and became a Fellow Member of The Higher Education Academy.

My portfolio of work is now diverse, spanning teaching management roles and research as a mathematical epidemiologist. My methodological specialisms are mathematics, mathematical modelling, handling model uncertainty, and using agent-based modelling (ABM) to explore complex systems in public health. I work to address a wide range of public health questions relating to health systems (especially maternal and child health), climate change, HPV/cervical cancer, HIV/STIs, COVID, and rapid diagnostic tests.

I am deliberately cross-disciplinary: my international peer-reviewed publications span very different journal categories, from health and mathematics to education.

Affiliations

Department of Global Health and Development
Faculty of Public Health and Policy

Centres

Centre for Evaluation
Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases
Antimicrobial Resistance Centre

Teaching

Successfully applied to take on role of a DL Public Health MSc Programme Content Director (start date pending).

Seeking opportunities to explore transferability / scaling-up of initiatives such as:

- Led a consultation and the co-development of a proposal (2021-23) for enhancements to the Project Module on the Public Health MSc by Distance Learning regarding decolonising the curriculum, and equity, diversity and inclusion, which produced a case study for the LSTHM Decolonising the Curriculum Toolkit on 'Evidencing student understanding of colonial legacies and social power hierarchies through assessment criteria'.

- Partnering with alumni and students on a project (2018-2022) to develop a virtual peer mentorship scheme for Public Health MSc students undertaking a research project via distance learning.

Deputy Exam Board Chair of the Health Data Science MSc (since March 2022).

Received a Director’s Award 2018 (jointly with Rebecca French) in September 2018 for Excellence and Innovation in Developing Students as Researchers.

A Director of LEARN – the Learning and Educational Advances Research Network - promoting best practice in learning and teaching through educational research (since November 2015).

Undertaking public engagement activities in primary and secondary schools (September 2017-July 2018), including talking about PhDs, research/science careers and mathematical modelling of infectious diseases, with some children (aged 8-11) building a compartmental model in Excel and others using doubling methods to make predictions.

PHM305 Project Module Organiser and Project Supervisor for the Public Health MSc by Distance Learning (since Oct 2008).

Doctoral Degree Supervisor/Advisor (since Sept 2008).

Programme Director for the Faculty of Public Health & Policy contribution to the Control of Infectious Diseases MSc and Public Health in Developing Countries MSc (summing to over 4 years within period 2007 - 2012).

Basic Maths Support Coordinator / Module Organiser (2007 - 2012) and Seminar Leader in the Basic Maths Support Sessions (2002 - 2012).

Research

I co-lead the Evaluation of Social and Public Health Interventions (ESPHI) Research Group. I have over 20 years of experience working on mathematical modelling of HIV/STI transmission, and the impact of prevention interventions in numerous different settings around the world, working in partnership with local teams.

I have developed mathematical methods of different levels of complexity to address specific HIV/STI transmission questions, with explicit consideration of the structural and parametric uncertainties in model projections. This work has included analyses reflecting the biological uncertainty associated with herpes-HIV interactions, the epidemiological and delivery uncertainties associated with introducing new HIV prevention technologies, such as microbicides, and the behavioural uncertainties associated with trying to make projections about marginalised and hidden groups, such as men who have sex with men in southern India.

I now hold various investigator/similar roles across multiple projects, mainly funded by the ESRC and the European Commission. I am involved in supporting the writing-up of the agent-based modelling (ABM) within the recently completed COSMIC project: 'Novel methods for optimising health systems payment for performance interventions to improve maternal and child health in low-resource settings'. I am also working to reduce inequalities in cervical cancer screening uptake in Europe within the CBIG-SCREEN project, and using ABM within the DIAMONDS project which aims to develop diagnostic tests to provide rapid diagnosis of common causes of fever including bacterial and viral infections as well as inflammatory diseases. Additionally, I am newly involved in co-leading the £2million REACH project on building resilience to floods and heat in the maternal and child health system in Brazil and Zambia (including the use of ABM).

I was a member of the LSHTM Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases (CMMID) COVID-19 working group (April 2020 - May 2021).

In recent years, my research interests have expanded to educational/pedagogical research to explore various issues in learning and teaching. I have published on raising staff awareness and understanding of creativity and innovation and followed a 'students as partners' approach in co-writing the evaluation of the DL alumni-peer mentorship scheme for publication. My educational research experience has also led me into new work on accelerating the development of health policy and systems research capacity in the Western Pacific Region, as well as exploring how students learn quantitative skills and apply these to modelling the dynamics of infectious diseases.

The focus of my research in the coming years is on using mathematics to explore both the propagation of uncertainty and the complexity within systems, along with continuing to mentor teams applying ABM to complex systems.

In terms of academic citizenship, I hold a position on Senate as Senior Academic for the Faculty of Public Health and Policy at LSHTM. Externally, I have reviewed funding proposals for the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Foundation and Swedish Research Council. I am also a member of various learned societies, including having a Steering Committee role within the international Research Network for Women in Mathematical Biology as part of the Association for Women in Mathematics.

Research Area
Climate change
Education
Modelling
Natural disasters
Sexual and reproductive health
Health systems
Epidemiology
Mathematical Modelling
Mathematics
AMR (Antimicrobial resistance)
Diagnostics
Disease and Health Conditions
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Infectious diseases
Sexually transmitted infections
Country
Tanzania
Brazil
Zambia
Region
European Union
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)
Latin America & Caribbean (all income levels)

Selected Publications

Supply-side factors influencing demand for facility-based delivery in Tanzania: a multilevel analysis.
Binyaruka, P; FOSS, A; Alibrahim, A; Mziray, N; CASSIDY, R; BORGHI, J;
2023
Health economics review
A systematic review of the cost-effectiveness of interventions to increase cervical cancer screening among underserved women in Europe.
SUN, L; Patel, S; Fiorina, C; Glass, A; Rochaix, L; CBIG-SCREEN Consortium,; FOSS, AM; LEGOOD, R;
2023
The European journal of health economics
Viewing the global health system as a complex adaptive system - implications for research and practice.
BORGHI, J; ISMAIL, S; Hollway, J; Kim, RE; Sturmberg, J; Brown, G; Mechler, R; Volmink, H; SPICER, N; Chalabi, Z; CASSIDY, R; Johnson, J; FOSS, A; Koduah, A; Searle, C; Komendantova, N; Semwanga, A; Moon, S;
2022
F1000Research
Using data from 'visible' populations to estimate the size and importance of 'hidden' populations in an epidemic: A modelling technique.
FOSS, AM; Prudden, HJ; Mitchell, KM; Pickles, M; Washington, R; Phillips, AE; Alary, M; Boily, M-C; Moses, S; Watts, CH; Vickerman, PT;
2020
Infectious Disease Modelling
Projected early spread of COVID-19 in Africa through 1 June 2020.
PEARSON, CA; Van Schalkwyk, C; FOSS, AM; O'REILLY, KM; SACEMA Modelling and Analysis Response Team,; CMMID COVID-19 working group,; Pulliam, JR;
2020
Eurosurveillance
Is modelling complexity always needed? Insights from modelling PrEP introduction in South Africa.
Grant, H; FOSS, AM; Watts, C; MEDLEY, GF; Mukandavire, Z;
2020
Journal of Public Health
Can mother-to-child transmission of HIV be eliminated without addressing the issue of stigma? Modeling the case for a setting in South Africa.
PRUDDEN, HJ; Hamilton, M; FOSS, AM; Adams, ND; Stockton, M; Black, V; Nyblade, L;
2017
PloS one
Who mixes with whom among men who have sex with men? Implications for modelling the HIV epidemic in southern India.
MITCHELL, KM; FOSS, AM; PRUDDEN, HJ; MUKANDAVIRE, Z; Pickles, M; Williams, JR; JOHNSON, HC; Ramesh, BM; Washington, R; Isac, S; Rajaram, S; Phillips, AE; Bradley, J; Alary, M; Moses, S; Lowndes, CM; WATTS, CH; Boily, M-C; VICKERMAN, P;
2014
Journal of theoretical biology
Cost-effectiveness of tenofovir gel in urban South Africa: model projections of HIV impact and threshold product prices.
TERRIS-PRESTHOLT, F; FOSS, AM; Cox, AP; HEISE, L; Meyer-Rath, G; Delany-Moretlwe, S; Mertenskoetter, T; Rees, H; VICKERMAN, P; WATTS, CH;
2014
BMC infectious diseases
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