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SNSF Professorship Awarded to Melissa Penny

02.03.2017 by Sabina Beatrice-Matter    

Melissa Penny, Swiss TPH, was awarded with a professorship of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) to undertake research to better understand interactions between parasites, medicines and vaccines. By applying mathematical modeling, Penny’s research aims to optimise public health and disease elimination strategies.

“I’m excited that the SNSF will invest in my research, giving me the possibility to expand my group and pursue new directions,” said Penny. “With our work, we want to make the development of new medicines and vaccines more efficient, ensuring innovation and tailoring of these interventions towards malaria and disease elimination.”

Melissa Penny has been a project leader at Swiss TPH since 2013, focusing on developing mathematical models that provide quantitative evidence to support malaria control and elimination decisions. She recently led a multi-institute collaboration to provide evidence to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other institutions on the public health impact and cost-effectiveness of the malaria vaccine RTS,S. Melissa Penny was habilitated at the University of Basel in 2017 and earned her doctorate in applied mathematics at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia in 2006. 

Penny’s professorship entails a four-year research project entitled “Multi-scale mathematical modelling of parasite, drug and vaccine interactions: optimising public health and disease elimination strategies”. The research will be conducted in collaboration with colleagues at Swiss TPH, researchers from ETH Zurich (Sebastian Bonhoeffer) and abroad. The mathematical models and evidence compiled in this project are aimed at improving malaria drug and vaccine development and public health policy.

Melissa Penny is one of seven new SNSF professors at the University of Basel. SNSF awarded a total of 42 new professorships at eight Swiss universities and both federal institutes of technology. The SNSF professorship program is aimed at promising young researchers with exceptional scientific ability.