Dr Emma Slaymaker
I have a background in communicable disease epidemiology but have spent so long working with demographers that the disciplinary boundaries are starting to blur. I work in the Population Studies Group and likes working with large complex datasets, particularly those that require some ingenuity to exploit fully.
My research is focused on the epidemiology and demographic impacts of HIV in Africa. I have a longstanding interest in using large scale survey data to understand sexual behaviour patterns and how these are best summarised and used to describe the potential for the spread of HIV and other STI.
My recent work has been with the ALPHA network of African HIV longitudinal studies investigating patterns of HIV mortality following the introduction of ART and trends and risk factors for HIV incidence (https://alpha.lshtm.ac.uk/). This includes a strand of data science work looking at how we can harmonise and share existing data using data standards and common data models such as OMOP (https://www.ohdsi.org/data-standardization/).
I am a co-director of the STI research interest group (STIRIG) and the WHO collaborating centre on STIs.
I am interested in how behaviour and circumstances intersect to determine disease risk, how we capture these in the data that we collect and how best to analyse those data.
I co-organise and teach on the MSc module 'Research Design and Analysis' and teach on 'Analysing Survey and Population Data' and on 'Population Studies'. I am currently the exam board chair for Demography and Health.
I supervise PhD students and am a tutor for MSc Demography and Health and MSc Reproductive and Sexual Health Research.
I developed and ran the short course on Advanced Stata, and may run this again in the future.
Much of my work revolves around using large and complex data sources: multiple, harmonised surveys (particularly Demographic and Health Surveys) or mutiple harmonised HDSS and sometimes clinic data linked to population-based data. Working with population- based data and data on infectious diseases has given me an appreciation of the dynamics of both and the research methods to adequately capture these. As a side effect of this I have an interest in data harmonisation and common data models and a knack for visualising how questionnaires will work for data analysis.
I have substantive interest in sexual health, particularly HIV, and how that intersects with popuation, social determinants and other aspects of health.
Immediately after my MSc, I worked on a European surveillance scheme for travel-associated legionnaires disease which involved a lot of database work and coordination with multiple international partners. Whilst I was there developed an online case reporting system (something of an innovation in the late 90s!). I moved to LSHTM to work on sexual health in a role that combined research and data science, assembling and analysing data on unsafe sex and STIs for the global burden of disease estimates in 2002. Having amassed a huge amount of data on sexual health from population-based surveys in multiple countries it made sense to publish a global review of sexual behaviour worldwide in 2006, and to update that 14 years later. I started working with Basia Zaba in 2003 and became inolved with the ALPHA Network when that started in 2005 although my first serious involvement was in 2007 when ALPHA looked at sexual behaviour in the context of HIV. Since then I have worked with ALPHA on a range of topics, including estimation of HIV-associated mortality and HIV incidence, and have been able to work with brilliant people from the ALPHA partners in NIMR Mwanza, IHI, RHSP, MRC Uganda, AHRI, APHRC, Manicaland Project, MEIRU,MRC/Wits Agincourt unit, and KEMRI Kisumu. Work with ALPHA data introduced me to more formal data science and collaboration with the INSPIRE network.
I am currently looking at risk factors for HIV infection and how we can integrate wider circumstantial determinants into our assessments of risk.