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Emory scientists receive NIH MIDAS grant for computer modeling of infectious diseases

Emory University scientists have received a five-year grant for more than $3 million to participate in a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiative to develop powerful computer modeling techniques to analyze and respond to infectious disease outbreaks. The MIDAS study (Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study) will harness the nation's computing skills to enhance our ability to respond to both disease epidemics, such as SARS, and to bioterrorism. The Emory research team, in the Department of Biostatistics of the Rollins School of Public Health, includes principal investigator Ira Longini, Jr., PhD, professor of biostatistics, M. Elizabeth Halloran, MD, DSc, professor of biostatistics, and their colleagues Azhar Nizam, MS, senior associate of biostatistics and Rustom Antia, PhD, associate professor of biology in Emory College.

The MIDAS initiative is sponsored by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), which awarded a total of four research grants totaling more than $28 million over five years. Three of the grants will support the creation of mathematical models to study various aspects of infectious disease epidemics and community responses, and a fourth award funds researchers who will develop a central database to organize information from the other three groups. It also supports the development of user-friendly computer modeling tools for the broader scientific community, policy makers and public health officials to use to simulate epidemics and response strategies. "MIDAS will play a key role in the NIH biodefense plan," said Elias A. Zerhouni, MD., NIH director. "The computer models created through this initiative will help us determine the best strategies to detect, control and prevent the spread of disease."

MIDAS will bring together interdisciplinary teams of scientists with expertise ranging from mathematics and computer science to epidemiology, genetics, and public health. The network of MIDAS scientists wil
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Contact: Holly Korschun
hkorsch@emory.edu
404-727-3990
Emory University Health Sciences Center
7-May-2004


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