Professor McLean is interested in how mathematical models can help our understanding of the evolution and spread of infectious agents. She studies how quickly infections grow inside individuals and how fast they spread amongst those individuals. Her research group is currently focusing on HIV, hepatitis C, influenza (flu) and scrapie.
Her current research projects include an investigation into whether we can design individualised treatment programmes for people with chronic viral infections. When infected people start treatment with anti-viral drugs, the amount of virus in their blood falls dramatically. That fall can be measured by taking frequent blood samples, and the resulting curve contains much information about the infection process inside that person. In principle it should be possible to tailor the treatment for a patient based upon the shape of this curve during their first few days and weeks on anti-virals.
Another project looks at how immune-driven evolution of HIV is causing new variants to spread through the human population. This research requires simultaneous consideration of the evolution of the virus inside people and of infectious transmission between people. Professor McLean's team has made new mathematical models of the epidemiology and evolution of HIV that combine different types of data to create a better understanding of how it evolved to become an established human infection.
- Emerging infectious diseases
- Infectious disease epidemiology
- Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs, also known as prion diseases)
- Swine flu
- Mathematical models in epidemiology
- Mathematical models in immunology
Professor McLean has experience of working with the media.