Infectious Diseases and Epidemics Program

Founded: 2018
Faculty Lead: Eric Nilles, MD, MSc
Status: Active Program
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 low-resource, emergency-affected, 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 ministries of health, NGOs, UN agencies, and academia to translate research to policy

Active Projects

Defining the pathogens, transmission characteristics, risk factors and geospatial hot spots of acute febrile infections in the Dominican Republic. CDC U01 award (2018-2023, PI Nilles)

Increasing access to hand hygiene resources in institutional and community settings in the Dominican Republic. CDC U01 supplement (2020-2022, PI Nilles)

Prospective COVID-19 cohort study to assess the epidemiology, transmission, and control of SARS-CoV-2 in the Dominican Republic. CDC U01 supplement (2021-2022, PI Nilles)

Implementation and evaluation of home-based care and hand hygiene interventions to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in Honduras. CDC U01 supplement (2021-2022, PI Nilles)

Perceptions, attitudes and acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines. CDC U01 supplement (2021-2022, PI Nilles)

Program Streams


  • 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


Our program has four priority research themes: 

  • Epidemiology of infectious diseases with a focus on emerging and re-emerging vector-borne pathogens and acute respiratory infections
  • Refining multi-disciplinary approaches to disease transmission through the integration of behavioral science, classical and molecular epidemiology, immunology, clinical medicine, and transmission modelling.
  • Studying the impact of water, sanitation, and hygiene on infectious disease transmission
  • Conducting controlled trials on the effectiveness of control interventions in resource constrained environments.

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

  • Prospective cohort studies
  • Community-based seroepidemiological studies
  • Randomized controlled trials
  • Qualitative and mixed methods research
  • Novel analytics including mathematical transmission models, Bayesian probabilistic models, machine learning, and spatial epidemiological approaches


  • 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


  • Build research capacity in low- and middle-income settings at high risk for disease outbreaks


Salome Garnier

Salomé Garnier

Research Assistant, Infectious Disease and Epidemics Program

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

Read more about Salomé Garnier
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