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EMPOWERING INDIAN HEALTH RESEARCHERS WITH COMPUTATIONAL MODELING TOOLS

Abstract

The goal of the University of Pittsburgh Global Health Research and Research Training eCapacity Initiative is to enhance evidence-based, data-driven decision-making in India through innovations in information and communication technology using modeling and simulation to assess the health and economic impacts of alternative disease control strategies. To globalize the advantages of methods and curricula developed in the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory (PHDL) at the University of Pittsburgh, we believe it is essential to have local public health experts take the lead in developing, running and analyzing the models. Our objective is to enhance the capacity of researchers to use computational modeling, not only at our Fogarty training site, SHARE INIDA (D43 TW009078), but also at multiple Fogarty training sites in India. In the introductory Phase 1, a two-day symposium (35 participants), SHARE INDIA, Hyderabad, will introduce the concept of the integrated decision support pathway, and basic modeling software and tools. This symposium will showcase research that enables data-driven decision making using cutting-edge methods including mathematical, network, and agent-based modeling. Five Indian investigators plus one modeling support staff will receive in-depth, hands- on training in computational modeling during a week-long workshop at the University of Pittsburgh PHDL. This workshop on complex agent-based modeling will use our open-source modeling platform, FRED (Framework for Reconstructing Epidemic Dynamics). This experience will foster establishment of a new collaborative network for modeling studies among Indian researchers and with PHDL researchers. Two small modeling developmental grants will be awarded. Phase 2 will focus on sustainability. Two small research grants will help sustain newly developed, collaborative modeling projects. Two PHDL modelers will return to India to visit the recipients of the small grants and solidify collaboratios. Two week-long short courses on computational modeling in public health, incorporating educational materials and free software from the Pittsburgh Workshop, will be presented by Indian faculty at CR Rao Institute targeting 25 participants each. A second introductory symposium for 35 new participants, led by newly trained Indian modelers, will stimulate a new wave of interest in modeling. Our aims address an unmet need in Indiai.e. building capacity of researchers to use cutting-edge, yet appropriate technology to address policy-relevant questions. The education program will result in increased knowledge among Fogarty-affiliated researchers in India of the kinds of data needed to inform models and basic methods in modeling. Trainees who attend the workshops in Pittsburgh and sustain their use of modeling through small research grants are expected to continue to apply computational modeling methods to address Public Health questions of importance to India. These trainees are also expected to lead computational modeling collaborations within India and with PHDL faculty. In the future, the program is expected to result in funded research that aids data-driven decision-making in Public Health in India.

People

Donald Burke

Distinguished University Professor of Health Science and Policy
University of Pittsburgh

Saumyadipta Pyne

Scientific Director, Public Health Dynamics Laboratory
University of Pittsburgh

Funding Source

FOGARTY INTERNATIONAL CENTER

Project Period

2017-2019