COST Action CA18218

[Training School] General concepts of burden of disease - 2nd edition

Date & Place

10, 17 & 24 September 2021
Online course


The General Concepts of Burden of Disease Training School serves as an introduction into the field. It provides public health professionals, and researchers from related fields, with practical knowledge about summary measures of population health, the historical background of the Global Burden of Disease study and its outputs. Furthermore, the TS introduces the concept and rationale of the main metrics (YLLs, YLDs and DALYs), and underlines their application and importance or priority setting in public health policy and decision-making processes.

The TS is offered on a regular basis, allowing for multiple people to get introduced to the basic concepts of burden of disease.


The TS will be online and organized into three modules, taking place once a week, on 10, 17, and 24 September, 2021. Each module will include theoretical and practical sessions, exercises and follow-up discussions. Each module is planned to take place from 9h30 to 15h00 CET, including a lunch break.

  • Module 1 (Introduction to DALYs and YLLs) introduces summary measures of public health and the basic concept of burden of disease, DALYs and YLLs
  • Module 2 (Introduction to YLDs) focuses on disability weights and the other main YLD inputs: input data, severity distributions, and comorbidity adjustment
  • Module 3 (DALYs: theory to practice) addresses practical issues related to data, assumptions, and uncertainties, and puts a focus on knowledge translation

Eligibility and prerequisites

The TS is open to all burden-eu members. The number of participants will be limited to a maximum of 30. If the number of applications would exceed the maximum number of available seats, candidates will be selected a) to prioritise motivated students and early career investigators, b) to ensure gender and geographical balance (and favouring representatives from Inclusiveness Target Countries), and c) to prioritise candidates that also applied for the previous edition.

A stable internet connection will be needed, and a working version of MS Excel for the exercises. Teaching will be in English. Exercises will require a basic proficiency in MS Excel.


Time (CET)Module 1
Friday 10/09
Module 2
Friday 17/09
Module 3
Friday 24/09
9h30 Welcome & introductions Welcome & wrapup of previous session Welcome & wrapup of previous session
10h00 Introduction to DALYs: historical and technical basis
Replay the lecture
Disability weights: theory and applications From theory to practice: data, assumptions, uncertainties
11h00 Exercise Exercise Exercise
12h00 Discussion Discussion Discussion
12h15 Lunch break Lunch break Lunch break
13h00 Calculating Years of Life Lost Calculating Years Lived with Disability Knowledge translation
14h00 Exercise Exercise Exercise
14h45 Q&A Q&A Q&A
15h00 Closure of module 1 Closure of module 2 Closure of module 3



Brecht Devleesschauwer
Brecht Devleesschauwer, Sciensano, Belgium

Dr. Brecht Devleesschauwer is a senior epidemiologist at Sciensano (the Belgian institute for health) and visiting professor in Risk Analysis at Ghent University. He conducts policy-driven public health research in the domain of composite measures of population health and health inequalities. As a member of the World Health Organization Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (WHO/FERG), he contributed to the estimation of the global burden of foodborne disease. Currently, he is coordinating the Belgian National Burden of Disease Study, and chairing the European Burden of Disease Network (COST Action CA18218). Brecht holds PhD degrees in Public Health and Veterinary Sciences, and MSc degrees in Biostatistics and Veterinary Medicine.

Ian Grant
Ian Grant, Public Health Scotland, UK

Dr. Ian Grant is a Principal Researcher at Public Health Scotland in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. He studied Politics and History, and obtained his PhD in Epidemiology. He has been working for the National Health Service in Scotland, since 1997, across public health, and statistics, institutes. In 2012, Ian was one of the core group that initiated the Scottish Burden of Disease study, and is the co-leader of the Methods Working Group of the COST Action European Burden of Disease Network. Recently his focus has been on defining and developing burden of disesese methodologies in national burden of disease assessments.

Juanita Haagsma
Juanita Haagsma, Erasmus MC, the Netherlands

Dr. Juanita Haagsma, PhD in health sciences, works as Assistant Professor at the Department of Public Health at the Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Her research focuses mainly on burden of disease estimates of injury and quantifying long-term consequences of injury in particular. For several years, she worked as Assistant Professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, where she was a member of the injuries team of the Global Burden of Disease study. She was responsible for the development and implementation of methods to calculate the global burden of injury. In addition, she has conducted several studies on disability weights, including a large disability weight study that collected responses from more than 30,000 people from four European countries.

Henk Hilderink
Henk Hilderink, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, the Netherlands

Dr. H.B.M. (Henk) Hilderink is Senior Scientific Advisor Population Health Foresight at the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment). He studied Mathematics and obtained his PhD in Demography. He has been working at RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment since 2014 and was project leader of two Public Health Status and Foresight Studies which included Burden of Disease (BoD) estimates and projections for the Netherlands. Before that, he worked on various national, European and global projects, such as the Sustainability Outlook, OECD Environmental Outlook and the UNEP Global Environmental Outlook, where he contributed with the modelling of demography and population health.

Sara Monteiro Pires
Sara Monteiro Pires, National Food Institute, Denmark

Dr. Sara Pires is a senior scientist at the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark. Her main areas of research are the burden and control of foodborne diseases. She has developed and applied methods to assess the burden of food-associated diseases at national and international level, and to provide evidence to guide public health policy for disease prevention. She is the chair of the Working Group on Infectious Diseases of the European Burden of Disease Network.

Elena Pallari
Elena Pallari, Health Services Research Center, Cyprus

Dr. Elena Pallari is affiliated with the Health Services Research Center in Cyprus. She is a Researcher at the Medical Research Council Institute for Clinical Trials and Methodology at University College London and Teaching Fellow on the MSc Psychology & Neuroscience of Mental Health/Applied Neuroscience Programme at King’s College London. She also serves as a Scientific Consultant for different research groups and clients in the United Kingdom and Europe. Elena has studies in Biochemical Engineering, Pharmaceutical Medicine, Quality Management and Business. A recent example of her work is on identifying indicators to measure the impact of the disease caused from the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) on the public health system of Cyprus. She has experience in evidence-based curriculum development, psychometric tools set-up, quantitative and qualitative research methodologies and data analysis, systematic literature reviews, and research impact evaluation.

Dietrich Plass
Dietrich Plass, German Environment Agency, Germany

Dr. Dietrich Plaß holds a PhD and MSc in Public Health and a BSc in Health Communication. He is currently working as a senior researcher and is deputy head of the department “Exposure Assessment and Environmental Health Indicators” at the German Environment Agency. There he is responsible for national assessments of population health effects due to different environmental exposures with major focus on ambient air pollution. He is an expert in the field of burden of disease and environmental burden of disease assessments as well as in the field of environmental epidemiology. Prior to joining the German Environment Agency he worked as a senior researcher and lecturer at Bielefeld University in the working group "Public Health Medicine" with focus on infectious disease epidemiology, population health and burden of disease. Dr. Plaß is collaborator in the Global Burden of Disease Study, member of the WHO European Region "European Burden of Disease Network" and chair of the working group "risk factors" in the EU-COST-Action "European Burden of Disease Network".

Elena von der Lippe
Elena von der Lippe, Robert Koch Institute, Germany

Dr. Elena von der Lippe is a scientific researcher at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin, Germany. She studied statistics and obtained her PhD in Demography. She has been working in RKI since 2008 in the Department of Epidemiology and Health Monitoring. She has worked on the conception, organization, quality assessment and analysis of different epidemiological studies conducted at RKI. Since 2015 she is involved in Burden of Disease assessments and is the methodological leader of the Germany BURDEN2020 Project.

Previous experience include work in the sphere of social and demographic statistics, poverty measures, family and fertility behavior in Eastern European countries. She has experience in analysing complex longitudinal and cross-sectional data.

Grant Wyper
Grant Wyper, Public Health Scotland, UK

Mr. Grant Wyper is a Public Health Intelligence Adviser in at Public Health Scotland in Glasgow, United Kingdom. He studied Mathematics, Statistics and Accounting, and obtained his MSc in Statistics. He has been working for the National Health Service in Scotland, since 2007, across public health, and statistics, institutes. Since 2014, Grant has been involved in the Scottish Burden of Disease study, and has wider interests in population health surveillance, evaluation of public health interventions, and effective scientific communication. Recently his focus has been on defining the methodology and integration of COVID-19 into burden of disease assessments in Scotland. Previous experiences include work on clinical effectiveness and safety studies.

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