Job opportunity | Lancet Countdown postdoctoral research fellow in dengue and climate change
To apply to this position please email your CV and cover letter by Sunday 31st January 2021, stating how you meet the criteria set out below, and why you are interested in this role, to: firstname.lastname@example.org
For general enquiries, please contact Marina Romanello at email@example.com
Deadline to apply is Sunday 31st January.
We are seeking a quantitatively minded person with an interest in epidemiology to integrate with a diverse team of Lancet Countdown researchers with existing expertise in infectious disease modelling.
The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change is an internationally renowned research collaboration. It congregates over 120 leading experts from 35 academic institutions and UN agencies to build evidence and understanding of the interrelationship between health and climate change, and ensure health is at the centre of the world’s response to this challenge. Publishing annually in the medical journal The Lancet, the collaboration produces a yearly report with over 40 indicators, tracking the health dimension of climate change. To complement the annual report, the collaboration produces primary research, exploring topics that are of special public health and climate policy impact. Recently, regional centres have been created, with the Lancet Countdown South America established in 2020, at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia.
Dengue is a major public-health concern in tropical and sub-tropical regions. It is the most rapidly spreading vector-borne disease, with an incidence that is continuously increasing the Americas. Epidemics of dengue result in human suffering, lives lost, added strain on health systems, and significant economic losses. Climate change affects the geographical distribution and incidence of dengue through direct effects on the pathogen, the vector, or their natural reservoirs, as well as via changes in human behaviour.
Based on previous research by the Lancet Countdown author Rachel Lowe, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, this project aims to understand how climate change might influence present and future risk of dengue in Brazil, and its associated economic burden. The post holder will play a key technical role in refining, fitting and evaluating spatio-temporal Bayesian model to predict risk of dengue in under future climate change and socioeconomic scenarios. The output of these models will help inform insurance solutions and engagement with governmental agencies, with the aim to build resilience into the system and help governments reduce dengue-related health risks.
This work is funded by one of the world’s leading providers of insurance, working to make the world more resilient. The postdoc will work at the South American Lancet Countdown Centre, under the leadership and guidance of Dr Lowe, associate professor at LSHTM and expert in the modelling the impacts of climate on infectious disease transmission risk; of Dr Andres G. (Willy) Lescano, infectious disease epidemiologist and director of Clima, the Latin American Centre of Excellence in Climate Change and Health; and of Dr Marina Romanello, Data Scientist for the Lancet Countdown. They will also work with other world-recognised experts from the Lancet Countdown in attaining the project goals.
The position is funded for 12 months at the South American Lancet Countdown Centre, hosted by the Clima Centre of Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, starting 1 March 2021. Possibilities of continuity will depend on successful attainment of additional funding.
Duties and responsibilities
1) Perform a literature review on the environmental and climatic drivers of dengue risk Brazil, particularly focusing on the drivers of the increase in incidence and in its regional/temporal expansion
– Review academic and grey literature, to identify candidate explanatory variables of dengue transmission risk that could be incorporated in a statistical model to refine its predictive capacity
– Identifying available spatial data sources
– Drafting a review document to report the findings to the funder, and ideally publishing the review in a peer-reviewed journal
2) Formulating spatio-temporal Bayesian models, to understand how environmental and socio-economic determinants are associated with dengue in Brazil. – Assessing the predictive power of various meteorological, hydrological and sociodemographic covariates for dengue forecasting. – Propagate uncertainty in predicted outputs into probabilistic predictions of key outbreak measures.
– Develop documentation describing the model methodology, explaining the assumptions, variables, covariates, model performance, caveats and model limitations
3) Model the future risk of dengue in Brazil at a sub-national level under different climate change scenarios
– Using Representative Concentration Pathway scenarios and other sources of data (which might include shared socioeconomic pathways), to predict the future risk of dengue in Brazil at a sub-national level, under different climate change and socioeconomic scenarios.
– Document the data and model performance
4) Estimating recent past and future economic burden from dengue in Brazil, taking into account the impact of dengue on lost labour supply and loss in income both in the past, and in the future under socioeconomic evolution (SSPs) and climate projections (RCPs). – Supporting the work of colleagues in estimating the recent past and future economic costs of dengue in brazil, providing them outputs from the model and any other necessary support.
– Leading the drafting of one or more academic manuscripts, to publish the work in a peer-reviewed academic journal
– Contribute to the documentation of the work, and to the reporting to the funders
– Contribute to the management of the project and maintaining a close line of communication with the Lancet Countdown and the funder, to periodically report on project progress and project plans.
– Contribute to future grant applications.
– Contribute to the academic life of the Clima centre.
– Doctoral degree in Epidemiology, Statistics, Mathematics, Environmental Sciences, Data Sciences or other related area.
– Strong quantitative and data analysis skills
– Experience conducting data management and analysis, ideally processing big data.
– High proficiency in R or any other similar programming language
– High proficiency in geo-localised data analysis
– Oral and written fluency in English
– Solid communication and interpersonal skills, proactive, able to propose and introduce innovation into the work
– Experience in infectious disease forecasting and/or spatial modelling is highly desirable.
– Experience in the use and analysis of climatological data, and particularly in working with RCP models
– Ability to fluidly communicate in Spanish and/or Portuguese.
– Experience and publications on infectious diseases epidemiology
The post will be based in Lima, Peru, in the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, but remote working will be possible given the pandemic. Preference will be given to candidates based in Lima, Peru, or who can spend time in Lima once pandemic risk is reduced.
The selected candidate will be offered a stipend-based contract for 12 months for a total of $48,000 United States dollars total (discounts might apply depending on the contracting basis, and the nationality of the applicant). As a reference, this is twice as much as the stipend provided by grants funded by the United States Fogarty International Centre post-docs or Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia returning investigator post-doc stipend positions. The selected candidate will be responsible to cover all required taxes, insurance, travel, housing and living expenses fees required for the successful completion of the post-doc objectives.
Drs. Lowe, Lescano and Romanello will mentor the candidate and are committed to the personal and professional development of the candidate. Dr Lescano will contribute to these efforts by enrolling a doctoral student from the Epidemiological Research Doctoral program he leads, in addition to a team of at least two Undergraduates and one Master’s student who can contribute to these efforts supporting the work of the postdoc. This assistance will be part of Dr. Lescano’s Fogarty-funded training grant entitled “Emerge, Emerging Diseases Epidemiology Research Training”.
The candidate will have a full-time contact with Dr. Lescano, Clima and other members of his team, and meetings with Dr Lowe and other members of the team every other week. The candidate will interact regularly with the Planetary Health & Infectious Disease Group at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
During the post-doc, the candidate will be involved in contributing to grant applications to continue this line of research and consolidating the research with future additional projects and funding.
How to apply
To apply to this position please email your CV and cover letter by January 31ST 2021, stating how you meet the criteria set out below, and why you are interested in this role, to: firstname.lastname@example.org
For general enquiries, please contact Marina Romanello at email@example.com