Mathematical Immunology of Infectious Diseases (09w5054)


Jane Heffernan (York University)

Beni Sahai (Cadham Provincial Laboratory)

(The University of Ottawa)


The Banff International Research Station will host the "Mathematical Immunology of Infectious Diseases" workshop next week, May 17 - May 22, 2009.

In spite of continuing advancement in the treatment of disease, we continue to face serious outbreaks of infectious pathogens (e.g. SARS, Influenza, HIV, HPV). Together with ongoing concerns about bioterrorism, this provides strong motivation for the development of mathematical models that help us minimize the frequency and severity of disease outbreaks. There are two major fields of mathematical modeling of infectious diseases. Mathematical epidemiology focuses on the spread of disease at the population level with the aim of tracing factors that contribute to pathogen propagation. Mathematical immunological models of infectious disease focus on disease progression within an infected host. The underlying mechanisms of disease progression are determined by focusing on interactions between the pathogen and the immune system. This type of study has implications for public health, providing a rational basis for vaccine distribution, drug delivery, and suppression of drug resistance.

This workshop will combine the expertise of international leaders and active researchers working in the fields of mathematical immunology, epidemiology, evolutionary dynamics and public health. Only by this integrated approach can we fully account for the complex interplay between infectious pathogens and the immune system, drug therapy or vaccine interventions and other key contributors to the growth of a pathogen in-host. Models that combine immunological and epidemiological characteristics will also have an important focus in this workshop since such models have great potential to provide new insights into the mechanism of pathogen growth, suggest new lines of research, and produce guidelines for the development of new drug therapies or vaccination protocols.

The Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS) is a collaborative Canada-US-Mexico venture that provides an environment for creative interaction as well as the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and methods within the Mathematical Sciences, with related disciplines and with industry. The research station is located at The Banff Centre in Alberta and is supported by Canada's Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the US National Science Foundation (NSF), Alberta's Advanced Education and Technology, and Mexico's Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologí­a (CONACYT).