The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) awarded a $412,000 grant to a research team, which includes Assistant Professor in Mathematics and Statistics Iain Moyles as co-principal investigator, that will analyze the influence of human behaviour in disease dynamics.
Titled “Epidemiological modelling of behavioural impact on Mpox mitigation strategies,” and led by Bouchra Nasri, an assistant professor in the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at the Université de Montréal’s School of Public Health, the project is part of an investment of $6.35M from the Government of Canada to support 13 teams across Canada that will carry out national and global health research projects on mpox and other zoonotic threats.
“Canada is not immune to future transmissions of mpox or other zoonotic diseases which is why investing in research that will strengthen our response is so important. Through this funding, researchers in Canada are taking the lead in understanding transmission, mitigation, and prevention to help Canada and countries around the world be better prepared for future zoonotic threats,” says Jean-Yves Duclos, minister of health.
The goal of Moyles and his collaborator’s project is to build upon limited knowledge around on mpox dynamics and the impact of behavioural changes on the virus and outbreak. Behaviour plays a critical role in how infectious diseases are spread, as well as the willingness of an individual to seek preventative health measures.
Driven by data from scientific literature and near real-time behavioural information from social media on prevailing attitudes towards mpox, the team will look to create a centralised repository of behavioural information in the context of infectious diseases that can provide reliable and updated knowledge for decision-makers and researchers.
The project will place a particular emphasis on the gay, bisexual and other men-who-have-sex-with-men (gbMSM) community, which has been disproportionately impacted by the mpox outbreak.
It will work closely with the gbMSM community, creating a community advisory board that includes experts and members of the gbMSM community in order to develop culturally sensitive and adequate strategies and ensure timely knowledge translation of our results to a broad audience, such as open-access publications and best-practice documentation.
The $412,000 grant from CIHR will fund two years of the project, with the result at the end of that period being translating findings into actionable information.