Sunetra Gupta

Last updated

Sunetra Gupta
Born1965 (age 5455)
Alma mater Princeton University
Imperial College London
Awards Rosalind Franklin Award
Sahitya Akademi Award
Scientific career
Fields Epidemiology, evolutionary biology
Institutions University of Oxford
Thesis Heterogeneity and the transmission dynamics of infectious diseases  (1992)

Sunetra Gupta (born March 1965) is an Indian infectious disease epidemiologist and a professor of theoretical epidemiology at the University of Oxford, England. She has done research on the transmission dynamics of various infectious diseases, including malaria, influenza and COVID-19. Gupta is also a novelist and a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award.


Early life and education

Sunetra Gupta was born in March 1965 in Calcutta, India, as the daughter of Dhruba and Minati Gupta. [2] She trained in biology, holding a bachelor's degree from Princeton University. In 1992, she obtained her Ph.D. from Imperial College London. [3] .

Scientific career and research

Gupta wrote her PhD thesis on the transmission dynamics of infectious diseases. [3] She is currently a professor of theoretical epidemiology in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford, where she leads a team of infectious disease epidemiologists. She has done research on various infectious diseases, including malaria, HIV, influenza, bacterial meningitis and COVID-19. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]


Gupta has been a critique of the lockdown approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, arguing that the cost is too high for the poorest in society. She has also questioned the quality of the debate on the pandemic. Pointing out that herd immunity is a way of preventing vulnerable people from dying, her view is that countries should follow the general approach taken by the infectious disease epidemiologists in Sweden, shielding the vulnerable as best possible while those with minimal risk go about their lives and allow herd immunity to build up. [11]

In March 2020, Gupta and colleagues published models for the coronavirus pandemic contrasting to earlier models produced elsewhere. The Oxford model suggested that up to 68% of the population could already have been infected, suggesting broader immunity and a subsiding threat. [12] .


Gupta has been awarded the Scientific Medal by the Zoological Society of London and the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award for her scientific research.[ citation needed ] In July 2013, Gupta's portrait was on display during the prestigious Royal Society's Summer Science Exhibition along with leading female scientist such as Madame Curie. [13]


Gupta sits on the European Advisory Board of Princeton University Press. [14]


Gupta wrote her first works of fiction in Bengali. She was the translator of the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore. She has published several novels in English. In October 2012 her fifth novel, So Good in Black, was longlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. [15]

Her novels have been awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award, the Southern Arts Literature Prize, shortlisted for the Crossword Award, and longlisted for the Orange Prize. Her novels include:

Related Research Articles

Pandemic Global epidemic of infectious disease

A pandemic is an epidemic of an infectious disease that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple continents or worldwide, affecting a substantial number of people. A widespread endemic disease with a stable number of infected people is not a pandemic. Widespread endemic diseases with a stable number of infected people such as recurrences of seasonal influenza are generally excluded as they occur simultaneously in large regions of the globe rather than being spread worldwide.

Herd immunity Concept in epidemiology

Herd immunity is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, whether through vaccination or previous infections, thereby providing a measure of protection for individuals who are not immune. In a population in which a large proportion of individuals possess immunity, such people being unlikely to contribute to disease transmission, chains of infection are more likely to be disrupted, which either stops or slows the spread of disease. The greater the proportion of immune individuals in a community, the smaller the probability that non-immune individuals will come into contact with an infectious individual, helping to shield non-immune individuals from infection.

<i>Orthomyxoviridae</i> Family of RNA viruses including the influenza viruses

Orthomyxoviridae is a family of negative-sense RNA viruses. It includes seven genera: Alphainfluenzavirus, Betainfluenzavirus, Deltainfluenzavirus, Gammainfluenzavirus, Isavirus, Thogotovirus, and Quaranjavirus. The first four genera contain viruses that cause influenza in vertebrates, including birds, humans, and other mammals. Isaviruses infect salmon; the thogotoviruses are arboviruses, infecting vertebrates and invertebrates, such as ticks and mosquitoes. The Quaranjaviruses are also arboviruses, infecting arthropods as well as birds.

Asymptomatic carrier a person or other organism that has become infected with a pathogen, without displaying signs or symptoms

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Influenza Infectious disease, "the flu"

Influenza, commonly known as "the flu", is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus. Symptoms can be mild to severe. The most common symptoms include: high fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle and joint pain, headache, coughing, and feeling tired. These symptoms typically begin two days after exposure to the virus and most last less than a week. The cough, however, may last for more than two weeks. In children, there may be diarrhea and vomiting, but these are not common in adults. Diarrhea and vomiting occur more commonly in gastroenteritis, which is an unrelated disease and sometimes inaccurately referred to as "stomach flu" or the "24-hour flu". Complications of influenza may include viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial pneumonia, sinus infections, and worsening of previous health problems such as asthma or heart failure.

Iterated filtering algorithms are a tool for maximum likelihood inference on partially observed dynamical systems. Stochastic perturbations to the unknown parameters are used to explore the parameter space. Applying sequential Monte Carlo to this extended model results in the selection of the parameter values that are more consistent with the data. Appropriately constructed procedures, iterating with successively diminished perturbations, converge to the maximum likelihood estimate. Iterated filtering methods have so far been used most extensively to study infectious disease transmission dynamics. Case studies include cholera, Ebola virus, influenza, malaria, HIV, pertussis, poliovirus and measles. Other areas which have been proposed to be suitable for these methods include ecological dynamics and finance.

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Ira M. Longini is an American biostatistician and infectious disease epidemiologist.

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Sean Nee is an evolutionary biologist and theoretical ecologist. He has been a Lecturer at Oxford University and Professor at the University of Edinburgh. He has published scientific research papers with ecologist Robert May, theoretical biologist John Maynard Smith and epidemiologist and novelist Sunetra Gupta.

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Mercedes Pascual is a Uruguayan theoretical ecologist, and a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, where she leads the laboratory for Modeling and Theory in Ecology and Epidemiology (MATE). She was previously the Rosemary Grant Collegiate Professor at the University of Michigan and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

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  1. "Sunetra Gupta". The Life Scientific. 25 September 2012. BBC Radio 4 . Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. "Weekend Birthdays", The Guardian , p. 51, 15 March 2014
  3. 1 2 Gupta, Sunetra (1992). Heterogeneity and the transmission dynamics of infectious diseases (PhD thesis). Imperial College London. EThOS
  4. Recker, M.; Pybus, O. G.; Nee, S.; Gupta, S. (2007). "The generation of influenza outbreaks by a network of host immune responses against a limited set of antigenic types". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 104 (18): 7711–7716. Bibcode:2007PNAS..104.7711R. doi:10.1073/pnas.0702154104. PMC   1855915 . PMID   17460037.
  5. Recker, M.; Nee, S.; Bull, P. C.; Kinyanjui, S.; Marsh, K.; Newbold, C.; Gupta, S. (2004). "Transient cross-reactive immune responses can orchestrate antigenic variation in malaria". Nature. 429 (6991): 555–558. Bibcode:2004Natur.429..555R. doi:10.1038/nature02486. PMID   15175751.
  6. Gupta, S.; Snow, R. W.; Donnelly, C. A.; Marsh, K.; Newbold, C. (1999). "Immunity to non-cerebral severe malaria is acquired after one or two infections". Nature Medicine. 5 (3): 340–343. doi:10.1038/6560. PMID   10086393.
  7. Ferguson, N.; Anderson, R.; Gupta, S. (1999). "The effect of antibody-dependent enhancement on the transmission dynamics and persistence of multiple-strain pathogens". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 96 (2): 790–794. Bibcode:1999PNAS...96..790F. doi:10.1073/pnas.96.2.790. PMC   15215 . PMID   9892712.
  8. Buckee, C. O.; Jolley, K. A.; Recker, M.; Penman, B.; Kriz, P.; Gupta, S.; Maiden, M. C. J. (2008). "Role of selection in the emergence of lineages and the evolution of virulence in Neisseria meningitidis". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 105 (39): 15082–7. Bibcode:2008PNAS..10515082B. doi:10.1073/pnas.0712019105. PMC   2553036 . PMID   18815379.
  9. Lourenco, José; Pinotti, Francesco; Thompson, Craig; Gupta, Sunetra (2020). "The impact of host resistance on cumulative mortality and the threshold of herd immunity for SARS-CoV-2". medRxiv: 2020.07.15.20154294.
  10. Sunetra Gupta on the Life Scientific
  11. Maggie Pagano, Alastair Benn, Mutaz Ahmed, We may already have herd immunity – an interview with Professor Sunetra Gupta, Reaction, July 21, 2020.
  12. Raphael, Therese (31 March 2020). "Science Isn't A Clear-Cut Pandemic Guide". Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  13. "Indian woman scientist's portrait to be exhibited in Britain". The Times of India . Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  14. Princeton University Press, European Advisory Board Archived 2011-06-08 at the Wayback Machine
  15. "biography". Sunetra Gupta. Retrieved 1 September 2013.