Dr Michael Meehan
Original Published Date: 
Thursday, February 18, 2021

Full story issued by the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine.

Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine researcher and Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) recipient, Dr Michael Meehan, is developing a world-leading system to model and analyse the spread of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19.

Dr Meehan will use genetic sequencing data to reconstruct epidemic outbreaks, to enable rapid and effective disease surveillance.

'My approach combines traditional transmission modelling with principles from evolutionary biology to reconstruct ongoing outbreak dynamics,' Dr Meehan says.

'These models will allow us to estimate several important characteristics of new and emerging infectious diseases, including the transmission rate and the period of infectiousness.' 

The models draw on publicly-available genomic data for common pathogens including tuberculosis, influenza, and SARS-CoV-19, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Dr Meehan said his research aimed to deliver improved intervention systems to enhance Australia’s preparedness to respond to any infectious threat.

'Because these methods encompass plant, animal and human hosts, they can be used to monitor and control Australia’s agriculture and aquaculture industries as well,' he says.

'I have also been working on a model to investigate outbreaks in prawn hatcheries in regional Queensland.'

Photo credit: 

Dr Michael Meehan. Credit: AITHM.