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Life in a network

Dr Goylette Chami

Junior Research Fellow in Medical Sciences, King’s College Cambridge and Wellcome Trust - Cambridge Centre for Global Health Research

Over 1 billion people worldwide suffer from infections with parasitic worms. These individuals are amongst the poorest of the poor within low-income countries. Treating these individuals is a challenging task. It requires an understanding of how networks shape our everyday lives.

Many aspects of human life can be viewed as a network, i.e. a set of connections. The pattern of these connections, for example, for neurons, electricity grids, and people give us insight into how our brain functions, how to avoid blackouts, and why infectious disease outbreaks occur. We are able to use networks to improve our quality of life because many real-world networks irrespective of the type or geographical location are remarkably similar. These similarities manifest in the pattern of connections. For example, in a friendship network, there will be only a few ‘popular’ people with many friends whilst most people have only a few friends. This uneven distribution of connections also is a common feature of molecular networks.

I am leading a study with the Ugandan Ministry of Health to investigate how networks can improve the treatment of humans with intestinal worms. We are utilising networks to track/stop the spread of infectious diseases and to develop new treatment strategies.

In this talk, I will discuss how networks form a key part of the fabric of our lives and how this information may be used to improve the lives of the world’s poorest of the poor.


Life in a network: molecular organisation to social networks, and the application to intestinal worms

6PM – 7PM