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Dynamics of Preparedness Conference — Special Issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice


The University of Pittsburgh MIDAS National Center of Excellence held the Dynamics of Preparedness Conference October 22–24, 2012. This public health systems 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 were published in a special issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. Conference participants heard about innovative methods and novel approaches to measure and evaluate public health systems in emergencies. They critiqued the rigor and quality of research output and flagged issues for which a better base in evidence was needed. They considered whether and how research in preparedness would be sustainable in the future. We acknowledge and thank the University of Pittsburgh’s MIDAS Center of Excellence for its support of both the Dynamics of Preparedness Conference and this special issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.

 Click here to read this issue.

MIDAS Alumnus Receives National Science Foundation (NSF) Fellowship

Suren JayasuriyaSuren Jayasuriya, a 2012 MIDAS summer undergraduate research fellow, was recently awarded a prestigious NSF fellowship.

Mr. Jayasuriya earned his bachelor's degree in Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh. During his summer fellowship with the University of Pittsburgh's MIDAS National Center of Excellence, he worked with Dr. Jagpreet Chhatwal on Advances in Decision Analytic Modeling: Adjusted Cycle Lengths in Markov Models and Probabilistic Sensitivity Analysis. Currently, he is researching mixed-signal integrated circuits, signal and image processing, and computational mathematics/modeling.

The purpose of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is to help ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce in the United States. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees in fields within NSF's mission. The GRFP provides three years of support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant achievements in science and engineering research.

Summer reading recommendation from MIDAS Center of Excellence

Image of book cover of The Signal and the Noise, by Nate SilverFor summer public health reading, PI Don Burke recommends The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail, but Some Don’t by Mr. Nate Silver. PI Burke writes, “Nate Silver became rock-star famous for his incredibly accurate ‘538’ blog of election predictions last year. So when Nate came through Pittsburgh to interview our epidemic modeling team for this new book on modeling, we cooperated. ‘Signal’ is a very thoughtful comparative analysis of modeling and predicting across a variety of disciplines – economics, weather and climate, and epidemiology.“ Dean Burke also says that according to Mr. Silver, “Epidemiologists – in refreshing contrast to their counterparts in some other fields – [are] strongly aware of the limitations of their models. Anyone interested in the growing uses of computational modeling will find this an enjoyable read.”

See the section on SimFlu, starting on Page 225 for analysis of MIDAS’ FRED.

To see more book recommendations from Deans of Schools of Public Health, visit http://fridayletter.asph.org/article_view.cfm?FLE_Index=21385&FL_Index=1784


Universal Paid Sick Leave Reduces Spread of Flu, According to Pitt Simulation

Supriya Kumar, PhD, MPHAllowing all employees access to paid sick days would reduce influenza infections in the workplace, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health modeling experts.

The researchers simulated an influenza epidemic in Pittsburgh and surrounding Allegheny County and found that universal access to paid sick days would reduce flu cases in the workplace by nearly 6 percent and estimated it to be more effective for small, compared to large, workplaces. The results are reported in the online version of the American Journal of Public Health and will be in the August print issue.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people with flu stay home for 24 hours after their fever breaks,” said lead author Supriya Kumar, Ph.D., M.P.H., a post-doctoral associate in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology. “However, not everyone is able to follow these guidelines. Many more workers in small workplaces than in large ones lack access to paid sick days and hence find it difficult to stay home when ill. Our simulations show that allowing all workers access to paid sick days would reduce illness because fewer workers get the flu over the course of the season if employees are able to stay home and keep the virus from being transmitted to their co-workers.” Read more

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