Top researcher and British COVID-19 key expert joins UCPH from Imperial College

The English researcher and disease-modeling expert Dr. Samir Bhatt will soon join University of Copenhagen. From his position at Imperial College London, he has been a key expert in the British COVID-19 response as well as advisor to New York State on how to handle the coronavirus pandemic. Now, he receives a Novo Nordisk Foundation Young Investigator Award to start a research group at the Department of Public Health in Copenhagen.

Samir Bhatt

When the University of Copenhagen recruits researchers from world-leading research institutions, it is something out of the ordinary. The case of Dr. Samir Bhatt is no exception. He is now joining the Department of Public Health from his position at the renowned Imperial College London.

‘I am really excited to join the University of Copenhagen soon. I am looking forward to establish a new research group at the intersection of my interests within computational biology, epidemiology, mathematical modeling and machine learning’, says Samir Bhatt.

The recruitment of Samir Bhatt to UCPH was made possible thanks to the Young Investigator Award he is now receiving from the Novo Nordisk Foundation. The award is DKK 25 million and covers salary and research expenses for the new research group.

Great scoop

Samir Bhatt has experience from many different research fields but mathematical modeling is at the heart of his expertise.

Most recently, he has played a role as a special COVID-19 modeling expert to the British Scientific Advisory Board modelling branch as part of the Imperial College COVID-19 response team. The New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has also appointed him as a special COVID-19 advisor to the State of New York.

‘It is a great scoop for us to be able to recruit Samir Bhatt. He is internationally renowned for his excellent work on disease modeling and novel use of machine learning within public health. That is also why he is a part of the COVID-19 response team in Britain. His presence here will allow us to gain even more knowledge from the unique Danish health data as well we bring international collaborations with the best’, says Head of Department Steffen Loft from the Department of Public Health.

All about data

Over the years, Samir Bhatt has made mathematical models in all kinds of research areas. For instance, he has published a paper about housing in Africa and he was once contemplating becoming a quantitative analyst or “quant” in finance.

Most of his research, however, revolves around health and disease. His most cited paper is about the effect of malaria control in Africa. It has since been adopted by WHO and the model is still used to analyse effect of control measure to this day.

‘As a researcher, I am all about data. Our different models only get better with more data points and different types of data. And that is also part of the reason I am coming to Copenhagen: Denmark is a treasure trove for researchers like me when it comes to data. With both genetic data and data on health and disease, we should be able to settle nature-nurture discussions on a lot of topics’, he explains.

 ‘I feel that Denmark is being undervalued because it is quite a small country. But when I talk to researchers at the Department of Public Health, I feel really inspired by the exciting research ideas and their ingenuity. I feel that the University of Copenhagen is a perfect place for me to grow as a researcher’, he says.

Samir Bhatt is moving to Denmark with his Danish wife and will take up his position at the Department of Public Health this winter.

Read more about the Young Investigator Award from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.