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The Pirbright Institute

Mathematical Biology Group

In the Mathematical Biology group we take an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the underlying processes affecting infectious diseases of livestock. It is only through a better understanding of these processes that we can properly plan for the control of any disease. We combine state-of-the-art statistical and mathematical modelling techniques with observational and experimental studies to investigate the dynamics of infection at all scales, ranging from the cell to population level. Our models encompass both systems biology approaches and large-scale simulations. Our research complements field and experimental work at the Institute, identifying the key mechanisms that drive infection.


  • Bluetongue (BT): What is the risk of BT to UK livestock and how does this vary over space and time? What might be the pattern of spread of BT in the UK? How can BT be best controlled?
  • Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD): How does FMD spread within a farm? Why does FMD virus persist in some animals? What are the risks associated with different control policies? What are the dynamics of infection at the wildlife-livestock interface in endemic countries?
  • Scrapie: How much scrapie is there in the UK? How can scrapie be best controlled? Why do some farms get disease and not others?
Click here for details of, and links to, recent publications.


In addition to advancing understanding of livestock diseases through the application of mathematical sciences, the group is also active in promoting mathematics and science more generally.
  • Members regularly give lectures on Epidemiology at Universities, including Surrey and Cambridge;
  • The group hosts an annual Maths-related Careers Day for local students from Woking College, giving them an insight into how mathematics is used in the modern world;
  • Members participate in stakeholder events, such as national livestock shows, and many are STEM ambassadors;
  • David Schley is an active participant of the BIS-funded Royal Statistical Society-coordinated Bench Press Project (now part of the RSS StatsLife resource), training student and practicing journalists in understanding and handling numbers, data and statistics to improve the quality of science reporting.

Research Leaders: 



  • Kyriaki Giorgakoudi
  • Theo Knight-Jones
  • Ben Hu
  • Alice Muntzer




Contact us

Please email us at enquiries@pirbright.ac.uk.

Virus budding from cell surface (simulation model and observed)
Simulation of bluetongue incursion
Simulation of FMD dynamics within a cattle group
Charactiersing epithelium tissue