James Williams, 2013, Chemistry
The Oxford University Clinical Research Unit aims to positively impact the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of a variety of infectious and tropical diseases through clinical and laboratory research. My particular project at Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU) focused on evaluating the ecological role of pigs in the transmission of Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV), a mosquito-borne pathogen that causes severe encephalitis in about 30,000-50,000 people each year. As part of my internship, I reviewed and analyzed over 40 years’ worth of epidemiological data on JEV in both pigs and humans, much of which had not been published in English. My project culminated with a thorough report on the differences in JEV transmission between northern and southern Vietnam. Ultimately, the data I collected will help build an extensive mathematical model that explores the causes and implications of these regional differences as Vietnam moves towards the successful control of JEV through vaccination. Seeing firsthand how laboratory research could have a substantive clinical impact proved very rewarding, and I’ll take the insights gained at OUCRU with me as I complete my independent work in the Chemistry department.