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.