|New Teams Join Network to Model Pandemic Flu, Other Infectious
Four new scientific teams joined an international research network developing
computer-based simulations of pandemic flu and other infectious disease outbreaks,
the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), a component of the
National Institutes of Health, announced today.
The network is part of the Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS),
an ongoing NIGMS effort to use computer modeling techniques to better understand
the spread of contagious diseases and the potential impact of public health measures.
The results could aid health officials and policymakers in developing preparedness
plans for outbreaks that occur naturally or deliberately.
The new research groups will receive a total of approximately $7.8 million over
the next five years and will collaborate with four existing MIDAS teams established
“The MIDAS network has already demonstrated the power of applying computer models
to the study of disease spread and the effects of various intervention strategies,” said
Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., NIGMS director. “The new MIDAS teams expand the network’s
spectrum of expertise and enhance its ability to develop robust models.”
In addition to the individual research projects described below, the new MIDAS
teams will contribute to the network’s pandemic influenza modeling project. This
project involves simulating outbreaks of a deadly flu strain in different regions
of the world and then evaluating the effects of various intervention measures,
such as vaccination or school closures, on containing or slowing disease spread.
The new MIDAS awards will support researchers at:
- The University of California, Irvine, and the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga. This group will analyze past transfers of flu
from birds to people and model the effects of rapid pathogen evolution on strategies
for disease surveillance, prediction, and control.
- The Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, the University of Hong Kong,
the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands,
and the University of Washington in Seattle. This team will use mathematical
models to explore mechanisms of transmission, evaluate public health measures,
and design methods for monitoring the early stages of an outbreak in real time.
- The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia
and the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom. This team will develop
spatial and temporal models of infectious animal diseases, particularly those
like avian influenza that can cross species barriers to infect people.
- Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Harvard School of Public Health, and Brigham & Women’s
Hospital, all in Boston; Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland;
and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Argentina. This group
will develop ways to identify new clusters of emerging infectious diseases
and track antimicrobial resistance in hospitals and ambulatory settings. It
also will optimize strategies for using patient care data from large health
systems in infectious disease models.
To arrange an interview with NIGMS Director Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., contact the
NIGMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison at 301-496-7301. For more information
about MIDAS, visit http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Initiatives/MIDAS/.
NIGMS (http://www.nigms.nih.gov), a
component of the National Institutes of Health, supports basic biomedical research
that is the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research
Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of
the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal
agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical
research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common
and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.