Vaccines are one of the greatest achievements of public health in the 20th century. Universal immunization of infants and children, which began in the 1940s, has reduced the burden of previously common and potentially fatal infectious diseases. Despite remarkable progress, challenges remain. Each year, thousands of cases of vaccine preventable diseases still occur. Effective vaccines are still not available for many infectious diseases. Pathogens may evolve in response to vaccination with imperfect vaccines. Complacency toward immunization and anti-vaccination sentiment is growing in the United States and Europe while many vaccine preventable diseases persist in developing countries. Faculty work closely with public health practitioners and policymakers at CDC, WHO, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and GAVI on these issues.
Research in the Department of the Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases focuses on the following areas:
- Development and use of novel mathematical and statistical models to predict and evaluate the impact of vaccinations
- Surveillance to monitor the impact of vaccines
- Evaluation of attitudes and barriers to vaccination
- Studies to optimize the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of vaccination strategies
- Studies on the impacts of microbial evolution on long-term vaccine effectiveness
- Fundamental biological research on host immune effectors that will facilitate the development of new vaccines.