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Staying Ahead of the Curve: Modeling and Public Health Decision-Making

Tuesday, January 19, 2016 at 1pm ET

Staying Ahead of the Curve: Modeling and Public Health Decision-Making

Where are infections spreading? How many people will be affected? What are some different ways to stop the spread of an epidemic? These are questions that the public and decision-makers, including health officials, often ask during an outbreak or emergency. In a process known as modeling, scientists analyze data using complex mathematical methods to provide answers to these and other questions during an emergency response.  Just as models are used to predict the path of a hurricane, models can be used to predict the impact of interventions during an epidemic. Modeling is helpful in more than just emergency situations, though. For example, models are also used to predict when the next flu season will start and to decide which flu strains to include in the flu shot each year.

Models provide the foresight that can help decision-makers better prepare for the future. Modelers attempt to use all available data to formulate predictions. As more data accumulate, the accuracy of predictions improves. Models can also help us understand situations that were unclear in the past by looking at old data in new ways. With models, decision-makers can look to the future with confidence in their ability to respond to outbreaks and public health emergencies.

Join us for this session of Public Health Grand Rounds as we discuss what insights models can provide, how modeling has informed responses in public health, and where modeling can lead the public health community in the future.


In this session of Beyond the Data, Dr. Phoebe Thorpe, Dr. Lauren Meyers, and Dr. Martin Meltzer discuss modeling and its public health applications. Tune in to hear these experts explain what modeling is, how we can use it effectively during infectious disease outbreaks, and how modelers communicate with leaders and decision makers to benefit the public.

Presented By:

Lauren Ancel Meyers, PhD 
Professor, Department of Integrative Biology
Department of Statistics and Data Sciences
University of Texas at Austin
“Modeling to Support Outbreak Preparedness, Surveillance and Response” 

Martin Meltzer, PhD
Lead, Health Economics and Modeling Unit
Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CDC
“What Do Policy Makers Expect from Modelers during a Response?”

Daniel Jernigan, MD
Director, Influenza Division
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC
“Application of Modeling and Forecasting for Preventing Influenza”

 Richard Hatchett, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Deputy Director for Strategic Sciences
Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
“Explaining Phenomena, Providing Foresight, and Making Predictions”

Facilitated By:

John Iskander, MD, MPH, Scientific Director, Public Health Grand Rounds
Phoebe Thorpe, MD, MPH, Deputy Scientific Director, Public Health Grand Rounds
Susan Laird, MSN, RN, Communications Director, Public Health Grand Rounds

Additional Resources

  • SurvCost Tool  — Developed to aid public health officials in estimating the cost of Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response systems
  • Pandemic Flu Preparedness Tools  — Many resources for public health professionals including FluAid 2.0, FluSurge 2.0, FluLabSurge, and FluWorkLoss
  • MedCon Tool  — Assists in planning baseline care response during an emergency
  • Ebola Response Model  — Allows users to estimate number of Ebola cases and asses potential impact of interventions
  • HIV Economic Model — Model developed to help assess costs and benefits of changing rules of HIV screening for immigrants
  • Special Edition Models — Special editions of flu pandemic tools calibrated for the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic
  • VacStockpile — Tool to estimate potential impact for stockpiling pediatric vaccines

Continuing Education

This session is available for Continuing Education. Click Staying Ahead of the Curve: Modeling and Public Health Decision-Making for more information.

  • Page last reviewed: January 19, 2016
  • Page last updated: January 25, 2016
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