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Samuel Wilks

Samuel Wilks

PhD Student

Research Assistant, WHO Collaborating Centre for Modelling, Evolution and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases

Austin Building Main Lecture Theatre
Office Phone: 01223 (3)34872


During studies for my medical degree at Cambridge, my interests in computational and quantitative biology led me to work with the Smith group at the Centre for Pathogen Evolution.  Following a series of projects with them my work has moved increasingly into the area of statistical analysis and mathematical modelling within the context of infectious disease. Completing my medical studies in 2013, I took up a position as a research assistant in the group while studying for an MPhil in Infectious Disease Informatics.

Research Interests

My current research interests focus on developing a better understanding of the immune response to antigenically variable pathogens, with influenza as my study organism.  Using results from haemagglutinin inhibition (HI) assays of human serum samples titrated against a panel of influenza viral strains, I aim to model and describe the immune response following both vaccination and natural infection in terms of antigenic differences between viral strains.  The ultimate goal is to better understand how the pattern of influenza strains already experienced by an individual and the antigenic nature of the strain to which they are exposed interact to dictate the nature of the antibody response generated.

Answers to the questions posed in this area allow powerful inferences to be made about the fundamental basis of development and maintenance of adaptive immunity.  Further, a greater understanding of how the human immune response can be manipulated more effectively yields the potential for even wider impacts, increasing protection afforded for vulnerable individuals against the flu virus through more directly outcome-oriented vaccine strain selection.