Creative Research Medal 2007
Pejman Rohani, Associate Professor of Ecology, studies the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases. His work has led to a greater understanding of how pathogens spread through their host population and has addressed questions of interest to the public health community. His studies of the past decade culminated in development of a novel mathematical framework to explore interactions between unrelated infectious diseases or strains of the same pathogen within a host population. Rohani applied this model to explain recent epidemics of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne viral disease, which has reemerged in outbreaks of increasing size and severity. The research, published in the Proceedings of theNational Academy of Sciences, offered an approach for elucidating the relative contributions of immunological and ecological mechanisms in determining how dengue fever spreads — and also the pattern of sequential serotype replacement over successive epidemics. Rohani’s innovative work paves the way for understanding how pathogen strains or unrelated infectious diseases may interact.