Building research networks for integrating infectious disease modeling into national control programs
A Wellcome Trust funded workshop at Harvard University for junior scientists working at the interface of policy and research in low and middle income settings.
Organizers: Caroline Buckee (Harvard), Jessica Metcalf (Princeton)
Dates: May 10th-12th 2017
Location: Harvard University, USA
Participant limit: 15
Funding: participant travel and accommodation are covered by the workshop.
There remains a disheartening lag between the rapid advances in quantitative methods and data streams available to scientists, and the integration of the promising new approaches they afford into national control programs in low and middle-income settings. In order to take advantage of methods in genomics, mathematical modeling, remote sensing, and big data, for example, national control programs must not only partner with researchers and corporations gathering such data, but importantly, they must build internal capacity to make use of them, in order to translate research into concrete actions. For young researchers embedded in national control programs or at local universities, the lack of support from peers and mentors with appropriate expertise is often a major hurdle to achieving this goal.
We have been developing new approaches for targeting resources (spatially and temporally) for control programs of infectious diseases such as malaria, rubella, measles, and dengue fever, using new data sources and cutting edge quantitative methods. We will conduct a 3 day long workshop at Harvard University that is specifically targeted at approximately 15 junior researchers from low and middle income countries who are working at the interface of infectious disease research and policy, providing their travel and accommodation.
The main aims of this workshop are twofold:
- To introduce participants to key developments in infectious disease modeling and data analysis, including risk mapping, epidemiological modeling, forecasting, and new data streams (principally genomics, satellite data, and mobile phone data). Here, we will concentrate on how to use and interpret models, how to implement them, how to deal with uncertainty, as well as on specific diseases relevant to the participants.
- To build a network of researchers from different low and middle-income regions who may work on different diseases in different countries, but who have similar academic expertise and can support each other as a peer group. We hope that these alumni will help us to organize similar meetings in endemic settings, and result in a co-authored publication.
- Introductions and short lectures (Metcalf, Buckee, Tatem, Maude)
- Focus on data streams and hands on modeling sessions.
- Break-out sessions: learning from each other – what are the main challenges the participants face, and why? What do they feel are the most important gaps in the control program/research area they work in? Participants will be grouped by region (Southern Africa, SE Asia, W Africa, for example) for group projects.
- Full day workshop at Harvard Center for Geographical Analysis on the use of ArcGIS and mapping software for surveillance and spatial risk analysis for disease control. Participants will be encouraged ahead of time to bring data sets from their country of origin.
- Breakout sessions: groups present their projects on the main challenges from their region, and general discussion.
- Discussion: contraints of new approaches and the limits of translatability of research.
- Review article development with input from all participants: we aim to write a review article outlining the main challenges and opportunities for national control programs with respect to the translation of new approaches to policy. Participants will bring their own experiences to bear on the feasibility for implementing state of the art techniques within programs in their respective countries. Each participant will be a co-author on a resulting publication.
Caroline Buckee (Harvard): modeling, malaria, mobile phone data
Jessica Metcalf (Princeton): modeling, rubella/measles, vaccination policy
Andrew Tatem (Southampton): geography, satellite data and remote sensing, mobile phone data
Richard Maude (Mahidol-Oxford Research Unit/Harvard): clinical epi, modeling, malaria policy
Harvard Center for Geographical Analysis: ArcGIS mapping tools
Applicants should have a Masters or a PhD in a relevant field, and be working directly with infectious disease epidemiological data, and have policy-relevant focus or experience. Ideally, applicants should be directly involved with control programs. A quantitative background is not required, but is strongly advised, and strong computer skills are essential.
To Apply :
Please send an email to Caroline Buckee (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jessica Metcalf (email@example.com) and include a CV and a very brief description of your work and why you might be interested in and suitable for the workshop, as well as the name and email of a more senior colleague who we could reach out to for a reference.