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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.

Beyond the Data

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, Departments of Integrative Biology and Statistics and Data Sciences
University of Texas at Austin
Martin I. Meltzer, PhD
Lead, Health Economics and Modeling Unit,
Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections

National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CDC
CAPT Daniel B. Jernigan, MD, MPH
Director, Influenza Division
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC
Richard J. 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

Facilitated By

John Iskander, MD, MPH
Scientific Director
Phoebe Thorpe, MD, MPH
Deputy Scientific Director
Susan Laird, MSN, RN
Communications Director

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  • Page last reviewed: February 28, 2018
  • Page last updated: February 28, 2018
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Science
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication
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