Sarafa Iyaniwura Receives 2020 Kaura Award

The Institute of Applied Mathematics is pleased to announce that the 2020 Dr. Deepak Kaura Award in the Mathematics of Medicine has been awarded to Sarafa Iyaniwura, a PhD student in the UBC Department of Mathematics, in recognition of his work using mathematics to study complex biological systems.

Sarafa’s research is currently focused on modeling the transmission dynamics of SARS-COV-2 in British Columbia, using an ODE-based age-structured compartmental model. This model captures the heterogeneity in the contact pattern of individuals of different age groups in BC, as well as their activity level. When the model has been calibrated to daily reported cases of COVID-19 in BC,  it can be used to produce forecasts of possible cases. These forecasts are employed by provincial policymakers to make informed decisions on intervention strategies aimed at limiting the spread of the virus. In anticipation of a potential vaccine for the virus, this model is also used to study the effectiveness of prioritized vaccination for high-contact and vulnerable individuals in reducing morbidity and mortality. This project is a collaboration among researchers at the British Columbia Center for Disease Control (BC-CDC), Simon Fraser University, UBC’s School of Population and Public Health, and BC Children’s Hospital.

Sarafa will receive a $1500 award to support his research, which he conducts under the supervision of UBC Mathematics professors and IAM members Daniel Coombs, Colin MacDonald, and Michael Ward.

This prize, awarded annually, is made possible by a generous endowment from Deepak Kaura. Dr. Kaura is a pediatric radiologist and Chief Medical Officer of 1QBit, a Vancouver-based quantum computing software company. He leads the development of ground-breaking advanced artificial intelligence solutions in health and life sciences. As a leader in the industry, he has built health enterprise partnerships for data, developing and clinically validating several machine learning products for radiology, and working with Health Canada to develop and refine regulations for machine learning tools in health. He is also the Vice-Chair of CAN Health Network, a marketplace designed to unlock the economic potential of the Canadian health care system. He joined the Advisory Council on Deep Space Healthcare for the Canadian Space Agency in November 2019.

Prior to these appointments, Dr. Kaura was the Chair of the Board of Joule, a Canadian Medical Association subsidiary. He also spent five years in Qatar with the Sidra Medical and Research Center, most recently as the Executive Chairman of the Foundational Clinical Services Management Group, where he helped to set new standards in patient care for women and children and led ground-breaking work in the application of machine learning to health care. Dr. Kaura has also served several medical and scientific societies, including the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada as a Subspecialty Chair in Pediatric Radiology and has established a number of start-ups in the health care industry.  He received his MBA from HEC Paris, FRCPC following training in Calgary, and his MD from the University of Manitoba. He has held faculty appointments as Associate Professor at Cornell University and the University of Calgary. Dr. Kaura has also published several academic papers and articles and holds two health care-related patents.