As part of the Australian Biosecurity Awards, the Dr Kim Ritman Award for Science and Innovation recognises outstanding ambassadors for science and innovation. This year, Dr Richard Bradhurst, a Senior Research Fellow and Chief Investigator at the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis (CEBRA) at the University of Melbourne accepted the honour.
In close collaboration with the department, Dr Bradhurst developed the Australian Animal Disease Spread Model (AADIS), an internationally recognised, leading-edge computer simulation model of emergency animal disease outbreaks. The model simulates outbreaks of emergency animal disease on a national scale and features a novel hybrid and concurrent modelling architecture. This helps develop animal health policy by allowing decision-makers to explore a range of outbreak scenarios and assess the cost-effectiveness of potential control strategies.
Initially developed for foot-and-mouth disease before expanding to include other animal diseases, AADIS simulates diseases such as bluetongue and African swine fever, and is constantly evolving.
“Outbreaks of emergency animal disease are complex problems in time and space with respect to arrival pathways, spread mechanisms, relationships with wild populations, detection, response options, and proof of freedom. Planning and preparedness is especially challenging when the diseases are rare or absent and local field data is lacking. The AADIS epidemiological model can help unpack these complexities by allowing experiments on policy options and resourcing demands across a range of incursion scenarios,” explained Dr Bradhurst.
After spending his early career developing aerospace and military software in Canada, Dr Bradhurst returned to Australia and started a PhD in epidemiological modelling. His PhD project involved working closely with veterinary epidemiologists in the department. The project resulted in the AADIS epidemiological model.
“It is a wonderful feeling to be recognised for your work and I’m honoured to receive this award. It’s been amazing to see AADIS evolve over the last 10 years from animal health to plant health, the environment, and human health. Modelling is a team effort that spans many disciplines and I’ve really enjoyed working with talented and dedicated colleagues from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and across Europe,” said Dr Bradhurst.