CSH Talk by Fakhteh Ghanbarnejad “The First Steps in Understanding and Modeling Disease Ecology”

May 11, 2023 | 15:0016:00

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Fakhteh Ghanbarnejad from the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems will present a talk on Wednesday, May 10 at 3:30 PM.


Title: The First Steps in Understanding and Modeling Disease Ecology



Diseases spread more complexly while interacting in an ecological system like syndemics. As an example, the flu (1918-1919) killed millions of people mostly by bacterial co-infections. Generally, pathogens that spread and proliferate on transmission contact networks interact, coexist, and coevolve. These interactions are either cooperative, e.g. Malaria and intestinal parasite infections, or competitive, e.g. different Malaria parasites, and can effectively change the way syndemic diseases spread and proliferate in the hosts’ populations. Also, the host can actively interact. Thalassemia, a form of inherited autosomal recessive blood disorder, is an example of the latter case, inducing a degree of protection against malaria. Moreover, climate change impacts in different ways emerging and also the interaction of the pathogens or their hosts. For instance, shifting seasonality may cause immigration waves of pathogens and vectors.


In this talk, I will first define “disease ecology” with more examples and then review my recent models [1-14] on interacting contagious dynamics, for example, coupled SIR (ordinary percolation) or SIS (directed percolation) dynamics. I show and discuss how our recent results have been improving our understanding of critical transitions in physics and also our understanding of epidemics, syndemics, and “disease ecology“.


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  10.  Frontiers in Physics 5 (2017): 46.
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  13.  Nature physics 11.11 (2015): 936-940.
  14.  EPL (Europhysics Letters) 104.5 (2013): 50001.




Fakhteh Ghanbarnejad received her B.Sc. and M.Sc. from the Department of Physics, Sharif University of Technology (SUT), Tehran, Iran. She did her Ph.D. at the Bioinformatics Group, &IZBI, Leipzig University, Germany, and defended it in September 2012. Then, Fakhteh joined the Max-Planck-Institut for the Physics of Complex Systems (MPIPKS) in Dresden, Germany as a postdoc researcher.  

She was awarded different prestigious research grants and worked as Principal Investigator (PI) at 1) Institute for Theoretical Physics (ITP), Technical University of Berlin (TUB), Germany; 2) Chair for Network Dynamics, Institute for Theoretical Physics and Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden (cfaed), TU Dresden, Germany. 

Also,  she experienced working at 1) Quantitative Life Sciences, the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, Italy, as Research Staff Associate; 2) the Physics Department at SUT, Tehran, Iran, as Assistant Prof. and 3) the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Berlin, Germany, as Research Scientist.



May 11, 2023


Fariba Karimi


Complexity Science Hub Vienna
Josefstädter Straße 39
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