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Vaccine Modeling Initiative

The Vaccine Modeling Initiative (VMI) is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and directed by Dr. Donald Burke, Dean of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. The VMI is a research consortium between the University of Pittsburgh, Imperial College London and Princeton University with collaborators in many other institutes such as the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

The objective of the VMI is improved decision-making in the selection of new vaccine products and epidemic control policies. This is done by the development of computational models and simulations of epidemic infectious diseases of global importance, and application of these models to guide new vaccine product selection and to optimize control policies. The application of these new tools will allow more informed public health decision making and add an additional component in the global effort to reduce the burden of infectious diseases. Read more...




VMI Logistics Team Increase Effectiveness of Benin's Vaccination Program


In Benin's simulation, multiple red columns and lines show the supply chain's  storage and transport bottlenecks, where capacity may be inadequate for vaccines to continue flowing to their intended destinations.
In Benin's simulation, multiple red columns and lines show the supply chain's storage and transport bottlenecks, where capacity may be inadequate for vaccines to continue flowing to their intended destinations.
Credit: Image courtesy of Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

May 15, 2014 — Suboptimal vaccine coverage and impending vaccine introductions prompted the Republic of Benin’s Ministry of Health (MoH) to work with the VMI HERMES Logistics Modeling Team to explore ways to improve their vaccine supply chain. While increasing storage and transportation may be the most straightforward options, financial and operational benefits must also be considered. Using computational modeling and simulation software (HERMES) developed by the VMI team produced results which have helped Benin deliver more lifesaving vaccines to children most in need. Benin has enacted initial changes to the vaccines delivery systems based on the results of the Hermes model.


“The paper outlines our engagement with the Benin Ministry of Health in which we worked to choose among some key redesign options of their vaccine supply chain,” stated first author, Shawn Brown, director of public health applications at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.“ It’s a clear use of computational modeling and simulation to help a government figure out how to get the vaccines that are so desperately needed to every child they can.”


The improved plan will save Benin more than $500,000 in total costs through 2017. Changes to the vaccine delivery system include consolidation of the nation’s supply depots, changing transportation routes, and adding the rotavirus vaccine to the nation’s supply chain. “These are major policy decisions that could affect millions of lives,” said Dr. Bruce Lee, director of operations research at the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


Read the article: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X14006410




Pitt VMI Team Hosts NIHE Visitors



Tran Nhu Duong and Pham Quang Thai
Professor Tran Nhu Duong and Dr. Pham Quang Thai

The University of Pittsburgh VMI team hosted collaborators from the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE), Vietnam, on January 24, 2014. Professor Tran Nhu Duong, Deputy Director, NIHE, and Dr. Pham Quang Thai, Department of Epidemiology, NIHE, spent the day with Dr. Donald Burke, Dr. Wilbert van Panhuis and Dr. John Grefenstette at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health discussing the research orientation at NIHE and the joint VMI research program “Spatial Dynamic of Dengue in Southeast Asia”, which will use dengue modeling for disease prediction.


Donald Burke and Tran Nhu Duong
Dr. Donald Burke and Professor Tran Nhu Duong

The NIHE conducts research in epidemiology, medical microbiology, immunology and molecular biology. They study and develop new vaccines and biological products, direct national health programs including communicable disease surveillance and dengue fever control program, provide the Ministry of Health with technical advice, and offer graduate and undergraduate training, technical training and retraining.


Both institutions hope to expand collaboration in all related areas on communicable diseases and non-communicable diseases surveillance, control and prevention.




Pitt Unlocks Trove of Public Health Data to Help Fight Deadly Contagious Diseases


Project TychoIn an unprecedented windfall for public access to health data, the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health researchers have collected and digitized all weekly surveillance reports for reportable diseases in the United States going back more than 125 years.

The easily searchable database (www.tycho.pitt.edu), described in the Nov. 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, is free and publicly available. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the project’s goal is to aid scientists and public health officials in the eradication of deadly and devastating diseases.


Wilbert van Panhuis“Using this database, we estimate that more than 100 million cases of serious childhood contagious diseases have been prevented, thanks to the introduction of vaccines,” said lead author Willem G. van Panhuis, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health. “But we also are able to see a resurgence of some of these diseases in the past several decades as people forget how devastating they can be and start refusing vaccines.”


Read entire press release.




PLOS Revised Data Policy



PLOS is releasing a revised Data Policy that will come into effect on March 1, 2014. Authors will be required to include a data availability statement in all research articles published by PLOS journals.


To see the policy, click here: https://www.plos.org/data-access-for-the-open-access-literature-ploss-data-policy/


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