Sunetra Gupta

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Sunetra Gupta
Born1965 (age 54–55)
Alma materPrinceton University
Imperial College London
AwardsRosalind Franklin Award
Sahitya Akademi Award
Scientific career
FieldsEpidemiology, evolutionary biology
InstitutionsUniversity of Oxford
ThesisHeterogeneity and the transmission dynamics of infectious diseases (1992)

Sunetra Gupta (born March 1965) is an Indian infectious disease epidemiologist and a professor of theoretical epidemiology at the University of Oxford, England. She has done research on the transmission dynamics of various infectious diseases, including malaria, influenza and COVID19. Gupta is also a novelist and a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award.

Early life and education[edit]

Sunetra Gupta was born in March 1965 in Calcutta, India, as the daughter of Dhruba and Minati Gupta.[2] She trained in biology, holding a bachelor's degree from Princeton University. In 1992, she obtained her Ph.D. from Imperial College London.[3].

Scientific career and research[edit]

Gupta wrote her PhD thesis on the transmission dynamics of infectious diseases.[3] She is currently a professor of theoretical epidemiology in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford, where she leads a team of infectious disease epidemiologists. She has done research on various infectious diseases, including malaria, HIV, influenza, bacterial meningitis and COVID19.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10]


Gupta has been a critique of the lockdown approach to the COVID19 pandemic, arguing that the cost is too high for the poorest in society. She has also questioned the quality of the debate on the pandemic. Pointing out that herd immunity is a way of preventing vulnerable people from dying, her view is that countries should follow the general approach taken by the infectious disease epidemiologists in Sweden, shielding the vulnerable as best possible while those with minimal risk go about their lives and allow herd immunity to build up.[11]

In March 2020, Gupta and colleagues published models for the coronavirus pandemic contrasting to earlier models produced elsewhere. The Oxford model suggested that up to 68% of the population could already have been infected, suggesting broader immunity and a subsiding threat.[12].


Gupta has been awarded the Scientific Medal by the Zoological Society of London and the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award for her scientific research.[citation needed] In July 2013, Gupta's portrait was on display during the prestigious Royal Society's Summer Science Exhibition along with leading female scientist such as Madame Curie.[13]


Gupta sits on the European Advisory Board of Princeton University Press.[14]


Gupta wrote her first works of fiction in Bengali. She was the translator of the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore. She has published several novels in English. In October 2012 her fifth novel, So Good in Black, was longlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.[15]

Her novels have been awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award, the Southern Arts Literature Prize, shortlisted for the Crossword Award, and longlisted for the Orange Prize. Her novels include:

  • Memories of Rain. Penguin Books India, New Delhi 1992, ISBN 978-0-14-016907-2.
  • The Glassblower's Breath (1993)
  • Moonlight into Marzipan (1995)
  • A Sin of Colour (1999)
  • So Good in Black (2009)


  1. ^ "Sunetra Gupta". The Life Scientific. 25 September 2012. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Weekend Birthdays", The Guardian, p. 51, 15 March 2014
  3. ^ a b Gupta, Sunetra (1992). Heterogeneity and the transmission dynamics of infectious diseases (PhD thesis). Imperial College London. EThOS
  4. ^ Recker, M.; Pybus, O. G.; Nee, S.; Gupta, S. (2007). "The generation of influenza outbreaks by a network of host immune responses against a limited set of antigenic types". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 104 (18): 7711–7716. Bibcode:2007PNAS..104.7711R. doi:10.1073/pnas.0702154104. PMC 1855915. PMID 17460037.
  5. ^ Recker, M.; Nee, S.; Bull, P. C.; Kinyanjui, S.; Marsh, K.; Newbold, C.; Gupta, S. (2004). "Transient cross-reactive immune responses can orchestrate antigenic variation in malaria". Nature. 429 (6991): 555–558. Bibcode:2004Natur.429..555R. doi:10.1038/nature02486. PMID 15175751.
  6. ^ Gupta, S.; Snow, R. W.; Donnelly, C. A.; Marsh, K.; Newbold, C. (1999). "Immunity to non-cerebral severe malaria is acquired after one or two infections". Nature Medicine. 5 (3): 340–343. doi:10.1038/6560. PMID 10086393.
  7. ^ Ferguson, N.; Anderson, R.; Gupta, S. (1999). "The effect of antibody-dependent enhancement on the transmission dynamics and persistence of multiple-strain pathogens". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 96 (2): 790–794. Bibcode:1999PNAS...96..790F. doi:10.1073/pnas.96.2.790. PMC 15215. PMID 9892712.
  8. ^ Buckee, C. O.; Jolley, K. A.; Recker, M.; Penman, B.; Kriz, P.; Gupta, S.; Maiden, M. C. J. (2008). "Role of selection in the emergence of lineages and the evolution of virulence in Neisseria meningitidis". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 105 (39): 15082–7. Bibcode:2008PNAS..10515082B. doi:10.1073/pnas.0712019105. PMC 2553036. PMID 18815379.
  9. ^ Lourenco, José; Pinotti, Francesco; Thompson, Craig; Gupta, Sunetra (2020). "The impact of host resistance on cumulative mortality and the threshold of herd immunity for SARS-CoV-2". medRxiv: 2020.07.15.20154294.
  10. ^ Sunetra Gupta on the Life Scientific
  11. ^ Maggie Pagano, Alastair Benn, Mutaz Ahmed, We may already have herd immunity – an interview with Professor Sunetra Gupta, Reaction, July 21, 2020.
  12. ^ Raphael, Therese (31 March 2020). "Science Isn't A Clear-Cut Pandemic Guide". Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  13. ^ "Indian woman scientist's portrait to be exhibited in Britain". The Times of India. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  14. ^ Princeton University Press, European Advisory Board Archived 2011-06-08 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "biography". Sunetra Gupta. Retrieved 1 September 2013.

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