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Save the Date: May 8-9, 2012

  • We are assembling a group of 25 of the best people we can think of to tackle a central question regarding modeling and its analysis.

Over two days around a central table, with subsidiary groups as needed, our aim is to work collectively on a crucial topic regarding modeling and simulation. Invitations will be extended to active modelers in various fields, policy makers working with models, thinkers with a track record of innovation, and philosophers of science specializing in modeling and simulation to attend.

Topic: New Measures for Models

Modelers sometimes remark that their models are misunderstood, misinterpreted, or misapplied; that explanatory models or warning projections are treated as point predictions, for example.  Policy makers and other model users sometimes remark that they don't know what a model is really telling them, and don't know when and whether they should trust it.

  • Is it possible to outline (a) a taxonomy of types of models appropriate for different purposes, and (b) some multi-dimensional measure of confidence or credibility for models within a given type?

The hope would be that models and simulations could then come labeled appropriately for particular applications, with needed scientific qualifiers in place.  Policy makers might then better be able to read and apply simulations appropriately.

  • We need to know: Where does the problem stand?  What steps might be made immediately?   What further work needs to be done?

We have reserved six slots for members of the national MIDAS network.

Travel and lodging expenses will be covered in accordance with the University of Pittsburgh guidelines. If you are interested in attending this workshop, please send a CV and letter of interest to Dr. Patrick Grim (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by Friday, March 2, 2012.

Presented by the University of Pittsburgh MIDAS National Center of Excellence and the Center for Philosophy of Science


October 22-24, 2012

University of Pittsburgh University Club
123 University Place, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260

The University of Pittsburgh MIDAS National Center of Excellence, in cooperation with the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice and the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard School of Public Health, invite researchers, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows to the Dynamics of Preparedness Conference in Pittsburgh, October 22–24, 2012.

Purpose: The past decade has seen unprecedented investments in research on preparedness from many sectors of government and the private sector. Numerous reports have appeared, evaluating the preparedness status of states and communities. Dynamics of Preparedness will convene researchers from diverse disciplines to present, critique, and consider the future of research on emergency preparedness in public health systems.

  • Dynamics describes the complex interactivity among numerous governmental, private, and voluntary components of public health systems.
  • Systems must adapt to emergencies and disasters —both as individuals, agencies, and organizations and as system components affecting the populations served—in ways that often produce unexpected, secondary impacts.
  • Preparedness includes prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery relevant to infectious disease outbreaks as well as other emergencies and disasters.


  1. Compile research on public health systems that support preparedness, specifically highlighting innovative methods and novel approaches.
  2. Critique the rigor and quality of output from this research arena, noting the findings and insights with implications for public policy and practical application.
  3. Catalogue the issues and problems where the evidence base for preparedness policy and practice remains weak as an agenda for future research and seek solution-focused innovations. 

Dynamics of Preparedness will feature sessions in:

  • Decision Support: from research to application
  • Methods and Innovations: methodological challenges and novel multi-disciplinary approaches
  • Modeling: use of computational, conceptual, and mathematical modeling to explore legal frameworks, resource deployment, and operational efficiency and effectiveness under resource-constrained conditions
  • Impacts:  demonstrations, observational studies, and comparisons focused on the outcomes of response to public health emergencies
  • Progress of Research: presentation of studies on the critical themes of system sustainability, communications, workforce capabilities, and criteria and metrics and on the cross-cutting issues of legal infrastructure and special-needs populations
  • Translation: utility and application of research results for policy making and practice 



Engaging Computational Methods for Public Health Law and Policy

October 7-8, 2013

This 2-day conference was sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh, including the MIDAS National Center of Excellence, the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory of the Graduate School of Public Health, and the School of Law.


Dynamics of Preparedness: A Public Health Systems Conference

October 22-24, 2012

This 3-day conference was sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh MIDAS National Center of Excellence, in cooperation with the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice and the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard School of Public Health. The conference brought together researchers, public policy makers, and research sponsors to present, critique, and propose innovative methods for the study of emergency preparedness in public health systems. Results from the conference will be published in summer 2013 in a special issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice on Dynamics of Preparedness.

View presentations


Epistemology Think Tank: New Measures for Models


May 8-9, 2012




Epistemology of Modeling & Simulation National Conference 

April 1-3, 2011 

This 3-day conference sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh’s MIDAS National Center of Excellence, along with the Center for Philosophy of Science, explored the theme “Building Bridges between the Philosophical and Modeling Communities." The goal of this event was to bring together sophisticated work in philosophy of science and on-going efforts in modeling in order to build more effective collaboration between philosophers of science and those who build and employ models in a range of disciplines and applications. The event took place at the University Club on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh.