The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will award Northeastern University in Boston $17.5 million to direct an innovation centre devoted to the early diagnosis and prevention of infectious diseases.
Northeastern Global News (NGN) of the university reports that the Centre for Advanced Epidemic Analytics and Predictive Modelling Technology, or EPISTORM, will “help detect and prepare the United States for the next outbreak of infectious disease, especially in rural areas.”
The money will be used to organise the efforts of different consortium members across the United States in order to get local communities ready for outbreaks of RSV and seasonal flu. According to Northeastern professor Alessandro Vespignani, “if we can tell (hospitals) even one or two weeks in advance that the numbers will go up, that they have to make room for two or three more emergency or ICU beds, that could make a difference.”
“For epidemics and epidemic threats, we want to be in a place with a National Weather Service.”
A team of institutions, healthcare organisations, and private businesses will work with the EPISTORM centre to conduct the research. The educational institutions involved in the partnership include the nearby Boston University, Indiana University, the University of Florida, and the University of California at San Diego.
Other group participants include the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Concentric Ginkgo Bioworks, MaineHealth, and Northern Light Health. The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, and other organisations are also represented in the group.
In order to “assist the United States in making more informed decisions during future outbreaks of infectious diseases,” the centre will use methods including artificial intelligence, machine learning, and wastewater surveillance. It will be the location for monitoring, forecasting, and scenario analysis of all potential dangers to the nation, according to Vespignani.
“To be an actor in this national endeavour is something that galvanises all of us,” he continued. “We are developing a future-oriented system. The same cannot be said for infectious diseases. Other places in the world do not experience it to this degree.