Dr Kathleen M O'Reilly
MRC Research Fellow
School of Public Health
St Mary's Campus
Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 3217
Dr Kathleen M O'Reilly
I am an epidemiologist interested in the use of models to control infectious diseases. I have recently been awarded a Medical Research Council Methodology Research Fellowship. I will develop mathematical and statistical approaches to aid in decisions on vaccination planning against poliomyelitis and other vaccine preventable diseases. I am currently based in Oxford studying for an MSc in Applied Statistics as part of my fellowship training. I am part of the vaccine epidemiology research group at Imperial, led by Prof. Nicholas Grassly.
Endemic polio countries, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, face very specific problems where vaccinating every child is critically important. In a paper published in the Lancet, I estimated the vaccine efficacy of three commonly used vaccines (trivalent bivalent and monovalent oral polio vaccines) and changes in population immunity from 2001-2010. Leading on from this work, I am currently developing methods to estimate vaccine coverage and compare these estimates to other field estimates.
Countries in Africa have experienced a series of outbreaks as a result of international spread of poliomyelitis. I developed and parameterised a statistical model to predict the timing, location and size of these outbreaks, to be used to assist vaccination planning. This research was published in PLoS Medicine in October 2011.
Much of my research into poliomyelitis has been relayed to policy makers, to assist with vaccination planning and assess whether changes in policy have resulted in a change in the epidemiological situation. My research has been presented as part of the GPEI Strategic Plan (2010-2012), has been presented at the GPEI Independent Monitoring Board and I frequently provide advice to stakeholders.
In July 2012 I was part of an independent team that visited Afghanistan to identify why the number of cases of poliomyelitis increased in 2011 and what district-level policies can be made to reduce the case load.
In October 2011 I shadowed a senior civil servant as part of the Royal Society MP and Civil Servant Pairing Scheme. I spent 2 days in Parliament to find out about how science is funded and how science informs policy, and 2 days in the Department of Health.
Conferences and meetings
I have presented my research at many national and international conferences. Invited presentations include Epidemics3 in 2011 and the African Conference on Regional Immunisation (ARCI) in 2010.
Science and society
Ensuring that science is relevant to modern society and that science is taught well in schools is very important to me. I have been involved with several projects, including “Illustrating Science”, funded by the Wellcome Trust, where I was an advisor to artists that visited primary schools to develop childrens’ skills in art and science. I also helped screen the film Contagion and discuss the film with local schools, in collaboration with Clapham Picturehouse.
Prior to Imperial
From 2007-2009 I was a post-doc at the University of Glasgow, within the Boyd Orr Centre. I worked on many disease systems, including foot-and-mouth disease and E. coli, with the aim of developing methods to improve surveillance of livestock diseases in Scotland. I have also worked at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (2006-2007), where I worked on the epidemiology and control of Salmonella in pigs.
My PhD at Warwick University (2002-2006) used mathematical models to determine suitable strategies for control of Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis infection, which causes caseous lymphadenitis in sheep. Prior to my PhD I published work on determining risk factors for mastitis in dairy cows and pre-weaning mortality in pigs.