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[Perspectives] Charlotte Watts: from pure maths to HIV and gender-based violence

Appointed last October as Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID), epidemiologist Charlotte Watts of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) is, by training, a pure mathematician. Indeed, her PhD from the University of Warwick was titled “stochastic stability of diffeomorphisms”. Although a background in applied maths might have offered her a natural progression into statistics and epidemiology, the relevance to health of “diffeomorphisms” is harder to discern—although not, it seems, to Anne Mills, Professor of Health Economics and Policy at LSHTM.