Jantien Backer’s current research focuses on two fast developing topics. Firstly, when a new infectious disease (re)emerges, there is a need of fast methods that can provide insight in the transmission and that can aid control decisions. Secondly, technological advances have led to increasingly faster and cheaper genetic sequencing data of pathogens. Using this type of data in dynamic transmission models can help to understand the spread of the pathogen in the population. The ultimate goal would be to combine the two topics: using sequencing data to inform on the most efficient control options during an ongoing outbreak.


Jantien Backer was trained as a chemical engineer (at the Technical University Delft, MSc 1999) and she continued in more theoretical research on particle dynamics (at the University of Amsterdam, PhD 2006). She started modelling infectious diseases at the Central Veterinary Institute of Wageningen UR in 2006, working on a variety of topics and diseases. She studied the effectiveness of emergency vaccination and preemptive culling to control infectious livestock diseases, such as classical swine fever, foot-and-mouth disease and avian influenza. She also worked on (maximum likelihood and Bayesian) estimation methods for transmission parameters and test characteristics.
In 2014 she took up her current position at the Centre for Infectious Disease Control at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.