Mathematics and statistics combat epidemics & bioterror

A Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Careled research team was today awarded one of four new national Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS) grants from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, one of the National Institutes of Health. The $3 million, five-year award will be a joint effort between the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention (of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care), Brigham and Women's Hospital, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, Harvard School of Public Health, Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research, and the Argentine National Institute of Infectious Diseases. The goal of this project is to develop powerful mathematical and statistical modeling techniques to quickly detect and monitor infectious disease outbreaks, whether they occur naturally or are released intentionally in a bioterrorist attack.

"This new support will improve our ability to use electronic healthcare data to enhance public health capabilities in detecting outbreaks of serious infectious diseases. We are particularly interested in recognizing unusual patterns of illness at the earliest possible time," says grant co-principal investigator Richard Platt, professor and chair of the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention (of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care).

Martin Kulldorff, the other co-principal investigator, and an associate professor and biostatistician in the same department notes, "This grant will allow us to learn how best to use and combine a variety of electronic health data to detect and monitor infectious disease outbreaks such as pandemic influenza; what fraction of the population must be observed to have a reasonable chance to detect important problems; and how we should deal with reporting delays and missing data. We anticipate addressing these gaps with the MIDAS grant and combining this approach with t

Contact: Leah Gourley
Harvard Medical School

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