Norovirus modelling study by Henley academics and Food Standards Agency wins award

30 July 2020

Norovirus modelling study by Henley academics and Food Standards Agency wins award

A study of Norovirus transmission conducted by academics from Henley Business School in collaboration with the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has received an international award.

Professor David Lane and Visiting Fellow Elke Husemann won the System Dynamics Applications Award at the virtual 2020 International System Dynamics Conference, Bergen for their work with Darren Holland and Abdul Khaled from the FSA.

The award is presented by the System Dynamics Society and recognises the best ‘real world’ application of system dynamics, based on demonstrated measurable benefit to an organisation.

Their work modelled both person-to-person and foodborne effects and used empirical data for model calibration and analysis. It has been communicated via a report, presentations at conferences and the paper Understanding Foodborne Transmission Mechanisms for Norovirus: A study for the UK’s Food Standards Agency which was published in the European Journal of Operational Research in 2019.

The paper outlines the complete arc of a range of modelling activities initiated by the FSA, which commissioned the research study to improve understanding of foodborne transmission of the virus known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’, and of where it might target its efforts.

Outcomes of the study included insight into the sources of seasonality of Norovirus, recommendations for future FSA research projects, and an increased understanding by the FSA of where it should concentrate efforts to control outbreaks.

David Lane, Professor of Business Informatics at Henley Business School, said:

“Because the FSA is serious about its science, we were able to work with highly expert individuals to build their model of Norovirus transmission. The system dynamics approach allowed these specialists to exchange knowledge, to consider the whole system and to think together about reducing cases. Both the model core and methods for reducing transmission also have a lot in common with COVID-19, giving extra relevance. I enjoyed applying theory to a real problem and helping develop practical and implemented ideas for tackling it. I am delighted to see the work recognised via this award.”

The paper is freely available as Gold Open Access here.

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