Dr Emma Harding-Esch
BA(Hons) MPhil MSc PhD AFHEA
I am an epidemiologist, with a focus on neglected tropical diseases (primarily trachoma) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
I obtained both my MSc (Control of Infectious Diseases) and PhD ("Trachoma control and elimination: Field studies in The Gambia and Senegal") from LSHTM, and led the field studies for the Partnership for the Rapid Elimination of Trachoma (PRET) trial in The Gambia. I also have experience of infectious disease surveillance, having been the Senior Enhanced Surveillance Scientist for CJD at Public Health England, and then a Principal Scientist in PHE's HIV/STI department. I was Senior Trials Coordinator for the eSTI2 Consortium, led by St George's, University of London, and subsequently the Programme Manager and Epidemiology Lead for the Applied Diagnostic Research and Evaluation Unit (ADREU), where I conducted several diagnostic evaluations to assess the performance, clinical and public health impacts of novel diagnostic technologies for STIs.
I returned to LSHTM in November 2017 as an Associate Professor and Chief Scientist for Tropical Data (www.tropicaldata.org), supporting national programmes to collect scientifically robust and standardised neglected tropical disease (NTD) prevalence data, allowing interventions for disease elimination to be targeted and prioritised. Through this role, I support research to principally help improve NTD survey and diagnostic methods. I also continue to be involved in STI-related research.
I represent Tropical Data as an observer of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC) and am an observer of the Trachoma Expert Committee. I am a member of the ICTC "Hard to reach populations" Task Team, the NNN "Conflict and Humanitarian Emergency" working group, and the NNN "WASH" working group. I am also co-chair of the WHO NTD Diagnostic Technical Advisory Group (DTAG) cross-cutting sub-group on surveillance. I am co-director of LSHTM's STI Research Interest Group (https://www.lshtm.ac.uk/research/centres-projects-groups/stirig), Bristol Health Partners Sexual Health Improvement Programme (https://www.bristolhealthpartners.org.uk/health-integration-teams/sexua…), and LSHTM's WHO Collaborating Centre for STIs (https://www.lshtm.ac.uk/research/centres-projects-groups/whocc-sti).
I am Co-Module Organiser for the Distance Learning module: Control of Infectious Diseases (IDM104), and a Lead Educator for the Eliminating Trachoma MOOC (https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/eliminating-trachoma)
I also lecture on trachoma and mapping on several MSc modules, am a personal tutor for the Control of Infectious Diseases MSc, and supervise MSc summer projects.
I am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
My research interests are focused on the epidemiology of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), with a particular focus on trachoma, to inform the achievement and maintenance of disease elimination. This includes working with health ministries whose trachoma prevalence surveys have been supported by the Global Trachoma Mapping Project (GTMP) and Tropical Data, to explore questions relating to what factors are associated with achievement of elimination criteria, and development of methodologies for post-elimination validation surveillance.
I also have a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) epidemiology research focus, and have a particular interest in diagnostics. I am a member of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) and its Bacterial Special Interest Group (BSIG, https://www.bashh.org/bashh-groups/special-interest-groups/bacterial/).
I am interested in exploring the commonalities between ocular and genital C. trachomatis, including the impact of mass drug administration on disease prevalence and antimicrobial resistance. I am a member of LSHTM's AMR Centre.
I supervise research degree students, currently:
- Clara Burgert (https://www.lshtm.ac.uk/aboutus/people/burgert.clara): Spatial analysis and modelling to support trachoma elimination and surveillance
- Becca Handley (https://www.lshtm.ac.uk/aboutus/people/handley.rebecca): Improving diagnostics for yaws eradication
- Kristen Renneker: How can alternative indicators be used to measure the prevalence of trachoma post-validation of elimination in a way that guides programme decision-making?
- Katja Siling: Improving STI testing access and surveillance in North Rhine-Westphalia state, Germany
I am interested in supervising doctoral students working on:
- The diagnosis, epidemiology and elimination of trachoma (and other neglected tropical diseases), including for post-elimination validation surveillance.
- The epidemiology of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), evaluation of diagnostics for STIs and their public health impact.