Infectious diseases in an era of globalization

8 Mar 2017 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Room 103, Fitzgerald Bldg, 150 College St. 


ABSTRACT: Previously unknown infectious diseases are emerging faster today than ever before, while many previously controlled diseases are reemerging. In less than 20 years, the world has experienced the arrival of West Nile virus into the Americas, the worldwide SARS epidemic, an influenza pandemic, a devastating Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, and now the globalization of Zika virus. In a world that is increasingly interconnected, small localized epidemics can now rapidly transform into international outbreaks, with devastating health, economic and social consequences. Indeed, climate and land use change alter infectious disease dynamics between humans, animals, and the changing environment. This lecture will discuss how various global forces such as population growth, urbanization, industrialized farming, and global air travel are transforming the worldwide dynamics of infectious diseases. The discussion will also focus on the potential for big data to help governments, healthcare providers and the public be better prepared for and responsive to tomorrow's inevitable epidemics and pandemics.

Dr. Kamran Khan is an infectious physician and scientist at St. Michael's Hospital, an Associate Professor with the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, and the Founder of BlueDot, a social enterprise that uses big data to strengthen readiness and responsiveness to dangerous global infectious disease outbreaks. Inspired by the 2003 SARS epidemic in Toronto and across the globe, Dr. Khan has been studying the globalization of infectious diseases for more than a decade.

Dr. Alexander Watts is an infectious disease ecologist and analytics team lead at BlueDot, based out of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael's Hospital. Given the growing evidence that forest loss and land use change influences the emergence of infectious disease, Dr. Watts' research interests lie at the intersection of landscape ecology, zoonotic and vector-borne diseases, and spatial epidemiology. Dr. Watts holds a Master's in Geography from the University of Calgary and a PhD in Ecology and Evolution from the University of Toronto.