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i-sense Q&A series: Our environment and the spread of COVID-19

Home > I Sense Qa Series Our Environment and Spread Covid 19

This i-sense virtual Q&A series highlights topics related infectious disease outbreaks preparedness and response – focusing on what we have learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, what we need to do to ensure we are ready to respond to the next infectious disease outbreak, and how can we better protect our population and healthcare systems now and in the future.

Each month we will explore different themes related to developing tools and technologies to track, test and treat infectious diseases. As preparing for and responding to an outbreak is a collaborative effort, we’ll gain perspective from experts in academia, government and policy, healthcare, and industry.

Below is the recording from our discussion on this month's topic 'Our environment and the spread of COVID-19.'


Wednesday, 16 December 2020

13.30 – 14.15 GMT

Our panel members

Prof David Heymann
Medical epidemiologist and Prof of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, LSHTM

Prof David Heymann is a medical epidemiologist and Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at LSHTM. He is currently chair of the Strategic and Technical Advisory group on Infectious Hazards (STAG-IH) that is advising World Health Organization (WHO) on the current COVID-19 pandemic. From 1989 to 2009 he held various leadership positions in infectious diseases at WHO, and in 2003 headed the WHO global response to SARS in his role as executive director of communicable diseases. In 1976, after spending two years working in India on smallpox eradication, Prof Heymann was a member of the CDC (Atlanta) team to investigate the first Ebola outbreak in DRC and stayed on in sub-Saharan Africa for 13 years in various field research positions on Ebola, monkeypox, Lassa Fever, malaria and other tropical diseases. Prof Heymann has published over 250 peer reviewed articles and book chapters, is editor of the Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, and is an elected member of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and the US National Academy of Medicine. In 2009 he was named an Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to global health.

Prof Dame Anne Johnson
Prof of Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Co-Director of UCL Health of the Public, UCL and President of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences

After training in medicine in Cambridge and Newcastle Universities, she specialised in Epidemiology and Public Health. Her career has focussed on research into the epidemiology and prevention of HIV and sexually transmitted infections as well as other infections such as influenza, Ebola, antimicrobial resistance and COVID-19. 

She co-directed the Medical Research Council, UK Centre for Co-ordinating Epidemiological Studies of HIV. She was principal investigator on the three decennial National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal).  She is a collaborator on the UK i-sense programme, studying point-of-care diagnostics and digital pathways for infectious disease detection.  She is a member of the RS DELVE Committee studying COVID-19 and serves on UKRI and other advisory groups on COVID-19 research  and  is an author of the AMS report ‘Preparing for a Challenging Winter’.

She co-founded UCL’s Institute for Global Health and has advised many national and international science organisations. She chaired the UK Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) Working Group on Improving the Health of the Public by 2040.  She is a former member of the DEFRA Adaptation Sub-Committee of the Committee on Climate Change and a former Governor of the Wellcome Trust.  She chairs the UK Committee for Strategic Coordination of Health of the Public Research (SCHOPR). She was awarded the Alwyn Smith Prize by the Faculty of Public Health in 2016 and the Andrea Stampar medal in 2017 by ASPHER for her contributions to Public health research.  She was awarded DBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2013.

Prof Deenan Pillay

How the Q&A will work

  • It’s free to join and open to everyone
  • We’ll be taking questions in the Microsoft Teams chat, or you can submit questions in advance to (let me know if you would like to be name as the person asking the question and who you would like to direct the question to)
  • The Q&A will run strictly to time, but we will try get to as many questions as possible in that time

Get involved 

If you have suggestions of topics you would like to explore in the future or questions you want answers, email them to

Instructions to join the virtual event

This event is hosted in a Microsoft Teams meeting by i-sense at UCL.

Please ensure that you have the Microsoft Teams App installed. If you already use Teams, sign in to the Teams App using the credentials issued by your host university, business or other provider. If you do not have the Teams App installed, or are not currently using Teams, please install the Teams App.

Please note we are unable to offer technical support to participants.