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New grants expand US infectious disease modeling effort
Date:9/3/2009

To help the nationand the worldunderstand and prepare for contagious outbreaks, the National Institutes of Health's Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS) adds new research expertise to increase its capacity to simulate disease spread, evaluate different intervention strategies and help inform public health officials and policymakers.

In recent years, a number of new diseases have emerged and infected people around the world. In 2003, a respiratory illness called SARS spread quickly from China to 37 other countries. A few years later, the United States experienced a major spike in cases of MRSA, the drug-resistant "superbug" version of Staphylococcus aureus. And just this summer, an H1N1 strain of flu caused international concern as it traveled to nearly all the continents.

Some of the best available tools for studying infectious disease dynamics and interventions are computational models. They incorporate basic information about a disease and the affected communities to simulate the spread of an infectious agent under any number of conditions. The results can help scientists, health officials and policymakers develop and implement control measures both before and during an outbreak.

"Models can't tell us what will happen, but they do allow us to explore a range of possibilities for disease containment," said Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the NIH component supporting MIDAS. "Since its launch in 2004, the MIDAS research network has been at the forefront of infectious disease modeling efforts, and we hope it continues to serve an important role in preparing for possible outbreaks."

The new MIDAS grants, which include two Centers of Excellence and three research projects, will receive an estimated total of up to $40 million over the next five years.

The Centers of Excellence will carry out research on modeling, develop outreach programs in public
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Contact: Emily Carlson
carlsone@nigms.nih.gov
301-496-7301
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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