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City of Pittsburgh Prepares for a Severe Air Quality Incident Using Predictive Analytics Technology

mark robertsThe City of Pittsburgh was joined Monday by representatives from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and Intermedix to host an emergency preparedness resilience workshop as a part of the ONEPGH initiative, which is a partnership with 100 Resilient Cities- Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation.

The three organizations put on a daylong workshop at the university aimed at exploring how emergency response technology would work with predictive simulations to prepare the region for an air quality combined with a heat wave disaster of the magnitude of the killer Donora smog event in 1948.

"Through public engagements as part of ONEPGH, we recognize that air quality is one of the primary stressors facing the region," said Grant Ervin, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Pittsburgh. "In talking with emergency response professionals, some of their concerns center around the question of what happens when normal events occur simultaneously to create cascading effects that put strains on systems. What we aim to do is model a historical event, like the Donora smog, and place it in a modern context."

The university's model, FRED, is a simulation technology initially created to predict the dynamics of infectious disease epidemics and the interacting effects of mitigation strategies, viral evolution and personal health behavior that has since been expanded to include many non-infectious diseases, as well as social and environmental factors that affect health.

Read more at the Journal of Emergency Medical Services...


Meet the Newest Members of the PHDL Team

David Sinclair, PhDFrom across the pond, David Sinclair, PhD, has joined the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory (PHDL) at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health as a postdoctoral associate/programmer. David received a Master of Physics from Durham University, UK, and recently completed a PhD in Physics (Astrophysics) at the University of Oxford. His research there focused on simulating and analyzing the performance of a complex radio telescope using algorithm design and large-volume data analysis. He has an extensive computational background, including creating signal processing algorithms for hardware.

Tejaswi Anantaraju, MS, MBATejaswi Anantaraju, MS, MBA, joins the Project Tycho team at the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. Tejaswi received a MS in Information Technologies from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and an MBA from Osmania University in India. He has extensive experience designing and implementing Java based e-Business/e-Commerce applications, including a web service for the Bank of New York Mellon stakeholders, along with a strong business analytics background.


Opioid Epidemic Forecasting

image002Since 2000, almost half a million Americans have died from drug overdoses. This modern plague—largely driven by opioid addiction—degrades health, saps productivity, spawns crime, and devastates families, all at enormous societal cost. How did we get here, and what do we do now? In the November 4 issue of Science, Dr. Donald Burke, Dean, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, discusses how a coordinated national opioid epidemic modeling program may help to solve this complex problem.

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Pitt MIDAS Investigator publishes two papers in Science

Derek CummingsCongratulations to Derek Cummings, Pitt MIDAS Center for Excellence investigator from the University of Florida, along with colleagues from Johns Hopkins University, Institut Pasteur, Imperial College, and Princeton University, on the publication of two major papers in Science. Dr. Cummings co-authored an important review, "Assessing the global threat from Zika virus" (Science 12 August 2016), which addresses important issues such as the transmission, natural history and phylogenetics of the Zika virus and its potential range. The second paper, "Benefits and risks of the Sanofi-Pasteur dengue vaccine: Modeling optimal deployment" addresses the effects of a recently developed vaccine for dengue which, like Zika, is caused by a flavivirus that is transmitted by a mosquito vector. Cummings and his colleagues from Imperial College, Johns Hopkins and the University of Florida's Emerging Pathogens Institute, present the first independent predictions on the potential impact of dengue vaccination programs (Science 2 Sep 2016). They argue that the vaccine will be most effective in areas where most people have already been exposed to dengue at the time of vaccination. If individuals not previously exposed to the virus are vaccinated, they are at an increased risk of severe disease when they are subsequently exposed to dengue. Read both articles: Zika and Dengue.

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