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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.

Michelle Dunn from NIH BD2K Visits University of Pittsburgh

Michelle Dunn seminarData science is increasingly necessary for biomedical science and requires established leadership and increased funds for research and training. This was the message of the first lecture of the 2016-2017 PHDL Seminar Series by guest speaker, Dr. Michelle Dunn, Senior Advisor of Data Science Training, Diversity and Outreach, Office of the Associate Director for Data Science (ADDS) at the National Institutes of Health.

Group attending Michelle Dunn PHDL seminarOn September 12th, over 130 people attended Dr. Dunn's lecture at the University Club in Pittsburgh, sponsored by the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory (PHDL), University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health. She described a major trans-NIH program, the Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) Initiative, led by the NIH ADDS Office, as well as the additional efforts toward enabling the efficient management of biomedical Big Data. Among the aims of the BD2K Initiative are to increase training and funding for research grants and support of a data ecosystem that accelerates discovery as part of a digital enterprise. Dr. Wilbert van Panhuis, lead researcher of Project Tycho and a MIDAS Pitt Center of Excellence investigator, received a BD2K training grant in 2015 which will build on Project Tycho as a global scale population health information system, improving the use of information to counter epidemic threats around the world.

For more information on Dr. Dunn's lecture and the information exchange, visit the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory website.

New Post-doctoral Associate Joins the PHDL

Angel Paternina, MD, MScThe Public Health Dynamics Laboratory is pleased to introduce Angel Paternina, MD, MSc, who has joined the department of Health Policy and Management as a post-doctoral associate. Dr. Paternina will work to develop a research program on the acquisition, integration and analysis of public health data to expand Project Tycho into a global, open access resource. His work will also include development of new analytical methods to visualize large scale disease data to detect patterns of associations between disease transmission and climate/demographic determinants.

Dr. Paternina earned his MD degree from the University of Cartagena, Colombia, and his MSc in Clinical Epidemiology from the National University of Colombia. He started his global health work in his native Colombia by studying the impact of rotavirus vaccination on child disease, reporting the effectiveness, impact and cost-effectiveness of the rotavirus vaccine to prevent rotavirus diarrheal disease and deaths in Colombia, Latin America and low and middle income countries worldwide. Since then, he has focused his research on the impact of different interventions in children and special populations, assessing in Colombia the cost-effectiveness of the varicella vaccine in children, HAART in HIV/AIDS population, mass pneumococcal vaccination in the elderly population, and the burden of H1N1 in pregnant women in Colombia during the pandemic. Currently, Dr. Paternina is an expert collaborator for the Global Burden of Disease study with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, and is working with researchers from Latin America to identify the severity profile of some vector-borne diseases in Colombian children, including dengue and chikungunya.

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