Close

LSHTM receives £3m funding to transform global pandemic response

LSHTM joins Epiverse, a new global consortium to design and build the data analysis software tools of the future and improve access in low- and middle-income countries.
Two weeks into the lockdown: a couple in protective masks enjoying their time outside, keeping away from other people as advised by the government. Credit: LSHTM

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) has been awarded £3 million to develop software tools which will aid future pandemic preparedness globally, as part of a new pandemic response consortium.  

This funding marks the first investment by Epiverse, led by data.org, since the UK government invited them to lead the effort to ensure safe access to data and data analysis for health emergencies, in response to a request from the Science Academies of G7 nations (S7).

The award was granted to a global team, including researchers from LSHTM and the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia (MRCG) at LSHTM, whose work takes a community-supported approach to outbreak analytics software development, and aims to fundamentally change how data is used in global infectious disease response.

This collaborative approach fulfils a key element of the Epiverse initiative, which calls for co-creation of tools and infrastructure, particularly in low and middle-income countries where there is limited access to data analysis.

Dr Adam Kucharski, from LSHTM and co-lead of the initiative, said: “This funding will help us accelerate development of tools that will ultimately be maintained and used by a globally diverse community of researchers, scientists and practitioners. This is a unique opportunity for truly scalable and sustainable epidemic analysis – it will change the way data tackles global challenges.”

With this partnership, LSHTM brings a breadth of expertise and experience in epidemiological modelling and open-source software creation and management—a rare and robust combination. Building on deep engagement with LSHTM’s MRC Unit The Gambia, a leader in public health research in West Africa, the consortium will work with academic and research centres in the ‘Global South’ advancing data analysis relevant to low- and middle-income countries.

In addition to deep domain leadership, the consortium will support the wider community of epidemic analysts and modelers who will be critical to shaping, reusing, and sustaining the toolkit.

Danil Mikhailov, Executive Director of data.org, said: “Working closely with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and MRC The Gambia at LSHTM signals the importance of subject-matter experts in rethinking how we apply data science to solve some of the biggest social challenges. data.org’s role will be to connect these world-class academic teams with specialists in other sectors, from technologists, to communicators, to policy makers. This partnership is the beginning of a growing effort to convene some of the brightest, most diverse minds globally to enable data-driven solutions in the social sector.”

LSHTM is also launching a new Centre for Epidemic Preparedness and Response - a specialist body gathering and synergising global expertise to focus on the prevention of, and response to, outbreaks and pandemics.

COVID-19 Response Fund

There cannot be any complacency as to the need for global action.

With your help, we can plug critical gaps in the understanding of COVID-19. This will support global response efforts and help to save lives around the world.