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Gates Foundation awards grant to women working in infectious disease modelling at LSHTM

The “Women in Modelling at LSHTM” initiative has been awarded US$100,000 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dr Kiesha Prem: "We hope this grant is the first step in building a community to support women working in infectious disease modelling."

The project is led by Dr Yang Liu and Dr Kiesha Prem, both Assistant Professors at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and members of the Centre of Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases (CMMID), with the backing of the group of modellers, “Women in CMMID”.   

The grant will support the career development and capacity building of (cis- or transgender) women working in infectious disease modelling at CMMID for the year 2023. While the main focus of the initiative will be “Women in CMMID” members, there are plans to involve women working in infectious disease modelling across LSHTM in various fields, such as health economics and epidemiology, as well as the wider modelling community beyond the School.

In September 2021, the “Women in CMMID” group was set up to create a safe space to discuss issues faced by women in academia and promote resources for personal career development. The recurring issues and training needs highlighted by this group form the basis of the “Women in Modelling at LSHTM” initiative.

Dr Yang Liu said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this grant. Through this funding we aim to improve knowledge for women in areas crucial to their careers, ensure women in the field get the credit and recognition they deserve, create a more equal and inclusive work environment, and improve people’s awareness and understanding of gender-related issues in infectious disease modelling.”

Over the next year, as part of the grant programme, there will be a seminar series, networking events, and bespoke training courses aiming at providing personal and community-level support in capacity building and career development. Additionally, a group of women working in infectious disease modelling from outside CMMID will be hosted within the Centre to work with its researchers.

The “Women in Modelling at LSHTM” initiative includes qualitative research efforts to identify systemic barriers women face in infectious disease modelling and gaps in training and other forms of support through surveys, key informant interviews and focus group discussions. The findings of these will be communicated via a community-focused dialogue workshop with members of the community (including men in modelling) and dissemination workshop with decision-makers.

Dr Kiesha Prem said: “Women in our field often many face barriers to progressing their careers due to a lack of opportunity and recognition, among other things. We hope that this grant is the first step in building a thriving community, which will offer support, and create opportunities for women working in infectious disease modelling.” 

To find out more information, contact Dr Yang Liu or Dr Kiesha Prem.

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