Infectious Diseases and Epidemics Program

Founded: 2018
Regions: Dominican Republic, Honduras, Democratic Republic of the Congo


Infectious Diseases and Epidemics Program (IDEP)

Disease outbreaks and epidemics disproportionately impact vulnerable populations including women, children, and the socially and economically disadvantaged. The Infectious Diseases and Epidemics Program aims to reduce the impact of infectious disease on these populations, with a specific emphasis on conflicts, disasters, and marginalized populations. Our goal is to is to achieve these aims by:

  • Conducting research and scholarship to inform interventions and policies that prevent or minimize the impact of infectious diseases and outbreaks
  • Convening national and international stakeholders to define research priorities and share best practices
  • Defining and supporting best practices in the humanitarian community
  • Collaborating with NGOs, UN agencies, ministries of health, and academia to translate research to policy to practice
  • Educating the next generation of humanitarian actors to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to prevent, detect, and respond to epidemics 

Current Activities

Program stream: Research

  • Conduct research on the epidemiology, transmission and control of epidemic-prone diseases that provides novel and evidence-based solutions and tools
  • Publish systematic reviews, guidance and white papers on infectious diseases and their impact during health emergencies
  • Identify priority research areas and assess gaps between published research and practice
  • Program stream: Operational
  • Develop field tools and templates to aid health authorities and field workers in the rapid assessment of epidemic risk and the containment of infectious diseases
  • Provide technical expertise during outbreak investigations and response
  • Conduct evaluations on the effectiveness of outbreak responses and infectious disease programs

Program stream: Education

  • Education of Harvard and other students, residents and fellows on the detection and response to outbreaks through a range of educational modalities
  • Support the Harvard Humanitarian Response Intensive course
  • Build research capacity in low- and middle-income settings at high risk for disease outbreaks


Our program has four priority research themes: 

  • Epidemiology of infectious diseases with a specific focus on emerging vector-borne pathogens and acute respiratory infections 
  • Combining multi-source data, mathematical transmission modelling, and machine learning to develop outbreak prediction tools
  • Socio-behavioral research on effective community engagement during health emergencies
  • Implementation of innovative field diagnostics

We utilize various methodologies in our research including but not limited to:

  • Community-based seroepidemiological studies and prospective enhanced sentinel surveillance
  • Descriptive and analytic epidemiology
  • Mathematical modelling (transmission models, Bayesian probabilistic models, and machine learning)
  • Social behavioral research methods including Knowledge, Attitude and Practices surveys and experimental designs


Salome Garnier

Salomé Garnier

Intern, Infectious Disease and Epidemics Program

Salomé is a Data Science intern for the Infectious Disease and Epidemics Program (IDEP). She is involved in various IDEP research projects in the...

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Eric Nilles, MD, MSc

Eric Nilles, MD, MSc

Director, Program on Infectious Diseases and Humanitarian Emergencies
Dr. Eric Nilles, MD MSc, is the Director of the Program on Infectious Diseases and Epidemics at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Assistant Professor...
Read more about Eric Nilles, MD, MSc