Some infections come in repeated epidemic waves, others are new to human populations. A known human threat such as influenza may mutate or a new infection jumps the species barrier from animals to humans: recent examples include HIV and Ebola, and the historical example of plague. What happens depends on the route of transmission.
Methods for tackling an airborne disease like influenza are different from those for touch (Ebola), insect vector (Zika), water (cholera) or sexual transmission (HIV).
Christopher Whitty CB FRCP FMedSci is Gresham Professor of Physic (the term for medicine when the post was created in 1597) at Gresham College, Professor of Public and International Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Consultant Physician at University College London Hospitals (UCLH) and the Hospital for Tropical Diseases.
Professor Whitty is also Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health and Social Care and head of the National Institute for Medical Research (NIHR). He is involved in many day-to-day public health decisions for the UK, especially for infectious diseases and emergencies.
He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He was interim Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of the Science and Engineering Profession and was previously Chief Scientific Adviser at the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
Professor Whitty has worked as a clinician and in public health research in the UK, Africa and Asia. He undertook his postgraduate training in epidemiology, economics and medical law.
A multidisciplinary research scientist, he is current in many areas of science and has an international reputation. Professor Whitty’s work spans the breadth of medicine, while his research has mainly focused on infectious disease and diseases of poverty in the UK, Africa and Asia. Infectious diseases are the theme for his first series of lectures as Gresham Professor of Physic.