Dr Tendai Mugwagwa

AIMS 2004
Fighting disease using mathematical modelling

Dr Tendai Mugwagwa’s passion for health sciences dates back to early childhood. For her undergraduate studies she majored in mathematical and biology. After arriving
at AIMS in 2003 she was introduced to the field of biomathematics which married her knowledge in mathematics and biology. In addition she also gained valuable skills in programming and problem solving. With these skills, Tendai continued to study biomathematics with particular interest in HIV infection completing a Master’s in Applied Mathematics from the University of Cape Town in 2005.

She went on to complete a PhD in theoretical immunology from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Tendai spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Rochester medical centre. She spent a further two years as a research associate at Imperial College London where she moved into the field of Tuberculosis epidemiology and health economics. Currently, Tendai is an infectious disease modeller for Public Health England (PHE) and a visiting Research fellow at Imperial College, London. At PHE, Tendai develops mathematical models that are used in the design and evaluation of tuberculosis control strategies with particular focus on social groups with limited access to health care. Her work helps inform public health policy and improve health practices.

“AIMS changed my view of science. Before, I used to see mathematics as a set of problems that needed solving, but now it is a set of tools that I can use to solve other life problems”

As a way of giving back to AIMS, Tendai approached Angelina and Martial who are both doing research in epidemiology with the idea of developing an AIMS review course called Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases. The course draws on their experience in the field of epidemiology as well as their experience with the AIMS style of learning. Its goal is to give students a broad view of the field of mathematical epidemiology and its importance for research and public health decision making. The course has been taught at AIMS South Africa in 2014 and AIMS Tanzania in 2015. In 2016, they hope to teach the course at AIMS Cameroon. Tendai has also tutored at AIMS South Africa and has supervised an AIMS student project at AIMS Tanzania.