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IBM Research - Almaden

Healthcare Information Infrastructure


 The Spatiotemporal Epidemiological Modeler

A National Healthcare Information Infrastructure will not only improve healthcare for individuals, it will also provide data needed to better protect public health. Policymakers responsible for creating strategies to contain diseases and prevent epidemics need real time data along with an accurate understanding of disease dynamics and the likely outcomes of preventative actions. In an increasingly connected world with extremely efficient global transportation links, the vectors of infection can be quite complex. We have created the STEM technology to facilitate the creation of new epidemiological models involving multiple populations (species) and interactions between diseases.The STEM technology allows the spatiotemporal modeling of infectious agents across the United States. STEM provides scientists and public health officials with a powerful tool for understanding, and potentially preventing, the spread of infectious diseases. STEM is open source and available for download under the Eclipse Public License at http://www.eclipse.org/ohf/components/stem/.

Overview:
The Spatiotemporal Epidemiological Modeler (STEM) tool is designed to help scientists and public health officials create and use spatial and temporal models of emerging infectious diseases.

The dynamic consequences resulting from the transmission of a disease from one species to another is important to understand. Transmission across species is considered a danger to population health as the receiving species may have little natural resistance to new pathogens. In the past century, three pandemics of influenza A in humans may have arisen due to cross-species transmission [1]. To this day, domestic pigs maintain descendants of the “Spanish Flu” of 1918-1919 which caused an estimated 30 to 50 million deaths worldwide [1].

A topical example is emerging in Asia with the transmission of avian influenza A (H5N1) from birds to humans [2]; to date, this virus has not developed the ability to rapidly transfer between humans. To avoid future worldwide pandemics and to develop response strategies, scientists are developing new, dynamic spatial models of infectious diseases. STEM is designed to facilitate the development of advanced mathematical models, to promote better understanding of epidemiology, and to provide new tools for protecting population health.

STEM image
The Spatiotemporal Epidemiological Modeler

[1] Parish & Webster, "Cross-Species Transmission Mechanisms of Pathogen Adaptation"

[2] http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/outbreaks/asia.htm

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