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2020 Fellow

OJ Watson

PhD Institution
Wellcome/Imperial College London

OJ is an infectious disease modeler who has used mathematical models to demonstrate the uses and limitations of malaria genetics to develop and evaluate different control interventions for the disease. His software and research has been used by numerous health authorities in Africa to help plan their malaria campaigns.

As a Schmidt Science Fellow, OJ aims to make a contribution to our understanding of drug-resistant malaria by pivoting to systems biology and bioinformatics. He seeks to quantify the genetic background of previous emergence of malarial drug resistances to predict the risks posed today. OJ received exceptional permission to delay the start of his placement while he continued to play an integral role in a COVID response project.

OJ is motivated by reducing global health inequalities. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how fragile health systems are in the world and how quickly infectious diseases can alter how we live. He believes tackling infectious disease will only be possible through access to data in research practice and software development, central to which will be leaning on multiple disciplines to design the solutions needed to reduce health inequities across the world.