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On 30 Aug 2017, Professor Lisa White, Head of Mathematical/Economic Modelling (MAEMOD) at MORU, led an engaging interactive Bangkok Scientifique session on the uses of mathematical modelling in infectious diseases at Café Tartine in Bangkok.

Researchers in BKK Science Cafe in 2017

Lisa kicked things off by asking attendees to assume that an unknown infection was spreading at the café. Participants were given conical caps (photo right). Using a mathematical model, Lisa then told audience members to stand up as directed, starting with the original (index) case and proceeding as the infection spread across the room.

Lisa then discussed the role of mathematical modelling in outbreak prediction and her work at MORU to predict anti-malarial resistance. This drew audience questions on the current epidemiology of malaria control in the Greater Mekong Sub-region and possible future epidemics.

The Q&A was followed by a discussion of other infections, including the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003. Lisa concluded with remarks on infectious disease prediction models and their use in guiding health interventions.

Held the last Wednesday of each month, Bangkok Scientifique is a public engagement with science initiative supported by Prof Phaik Yeong Cheah and the Department of Bioethics and Engagement at MORU. The Department seeks to engage with stakeholders including hard-to-reach audiences, those with limited literacy and the socially excluded to improve public understanding of science and enable the patient and public to be active collaborators in health systems and health research processes.  

Done throughout SE Asia, these public engagement activities in Thailand include the Tak Community Advisory Board, science theatre projectspublic engagement in classrooms and Pint of Science. The Department also supports Science Cafés in Laos and Cambodia and Young Persons’ Advisory Group and Village Drama against Malaria in Cambodia.

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