Dr Conall Watson
MPharm DipGPP MSc PhD FFPH
Honorary Assistant Professor
I’m an infectious disease epidemiologist with special interest in preventing and controlling disease through vaccination and other interventions. I split my time between public health research and communicable disease control/emergency response as a consultant in health protection at Public Health England's South East Centre.
My MRC-funded doctoral research at LSHTM was on the epidemiology and modelling of typhoid fever as a basis for vaccine programme decisions. During the 2013-16 Ebola crisis, I worked with the World Health Organization on Ebola vaccination, including an epidemiological needs assessment and the design of a novel ring vaccination randomised trial which brought the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine into operational use. I continue this collaboration into emerging disease threats as a member of the WHO R&D Blueprint working group on vaccine trial designs for epidemics and through an NIHR grant "Vaccine Efficacy Evaluation for Priority Epidemic Diseases" (VEEPED).
I originally trained as a clinical pharmacist in Nottingham and inner London, specialising in strategic medicines management before moving into public health specialty training, spanning health service commissioning, local government health improvement programmes and communicable disease control. I worked at the UK national infectious disease surveillance centre in Colindale on disease surveillance for the London Olympic & Paralympic Games, at the Department of Health on immunisation policy branch and in PHE's Global Public Health Team on public health system strengthening and programme monitoring & evaluation.
I teach or have taught various aspects of public health, including infectious disease epidemiology, vaccine implementation and disease screening, at LSHTM and other institutes. I am also involved in training of public health registrars, including for membership exams of the Faculty of Public Health.
My doctoral research was on the design of vaccination programmes and other interventions for the control of typhoid fever, particularly in the Pacific region, with fieldwork in Fiji in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, WHO Western Pacific, University of Queensland (UQ), other health partners and many volunteers who generously gave their time and blood samples. This cross-sectional, population-representative survey assessed exposure to Salmonella Typhi infection through the study of immune system antibodies. This, alongside data on social mixing, has been used to construct a transmission dynamic model to inform disease control policy.
The serum survey has also been used for investigation of leptospirosis, led by Colleen Lau of ANU, and as a serum bank for dengue fever (collected shortly before a large-scale outbreak of dengue-3), zika and other arbovirus research with Adam Kuscharski (LSHTM) and Pacific partners.
I also have developed a strong research interest in Ebola and other emerging infectious diseases, in responsing to the tragic events in West Africa. I am currently collaborating on a vaccine field study, electronic data capture, epidemiological research and transmission dynamic modelling.