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Institute for Systems Science and Health 2011

The Institute for Systems Science and Health


The Public Health Dynamics Laboratory hosted the 3rd Annual NIH-CDC Institute on Systems Science and Health (ISSH) at the University of Pittsburgh, May 22-27, 2011. ISSH 2011 was a week-long course providing a thorough introduction to selected systems science methodologies that may be used to study behavioral and social dimensions of public health challenges.


After a highly competitive applications process, 45 participants were selected for one of the following three tracks:
  • Agent-Based Modeling (led by John Grefenstette, Shawn Brown, and Bruce Lee, University of Pittsburgh)

  • System Dynamics Modeling (led by Hazhir Rahmandad, Virginia Tech)

  • Network Analysis (led by Steve Borgatti, University of Kentucky)

The participants spent six days in Pittsburgh, participating in intensive small-group training sessions and attending lectures from leading researchers on a variety of topics pertaining to systems science. The objective of ISSH is to provide training for investigators who have had little or no formal training in systems science gain a base of knowledge that will enable them to develop proposals to the NIH and CDC for research projects to improve population health and health equity.


ISSH is sponsored by the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research in partnership with the CDC Syndemics Prevention Network. For further information, see the ISSH web site or contact: Patty Mabry, NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; 301-402-1753).


Conference on Epistemology of Modeling and Simulation

The Conference on Epistemology of Modeling and Simulation was held on Pittsburgh on April 1-3, 2011. The Conference was supported by the University of Pittsburgh Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS) National Center of Excellence, and focused on philosophical issues that arise within the practice and application of contemporary research using modeling and simulation. The goal of this event was to bring together sophisticated work in philosophy of science and on-going efforts in modeling in order to build more effective collaboration between philosophers of science and those who build and employ models in a range of disciplines and applications.

Topics included:

  • The scientific status of computational techniques
  • Does simulation require a new epistemology?
  • The role of theory, experiment, model and simulation
  • Varieties and purposes of scientific simulation
  • Analytic modeling versus computer simulation
  • Problems of juggling multiple and competing models
  • How do models fail?
  • Validation and verification of models and simulations
  • Promises and pitfalls of large, detailed and realistic models

Click here for detailed information the the Conference Program.


Dr. Eunha Shim Joins PHDL Faculty

EunhaJuly 15, 2010: The Public Health Dynamics Lab is pleased to announce that Dr. Eunha Shim has joined the Lab. Dr. Shim is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology. She received a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Arizona State University in March 2007. She recently served as a Postdoctoral Associate and then as an Associate Research Scientist at Yale University in Dr. Alison Galvani's lab, working on modeling the transmission of infectious diseases and intervention strategies with a special focus on behavioral science.  Dr. Shim's research interests are in mathematical biology, especially modeling infectious diseases, pathogen evolution and the application of game theory. Dr. Shim's research employs mathematics to create qualitative and quantitative predictions of epidemiology and evolutionary problems. Dr. Shim's work often uses interdisciplinary approaches, integrating epidemiology, behavioral science, mathematics, and economics. Currently, Dr. Shim's studies consist of a variety of subjects, from more theoretical work (e.g. the pathogens' strategies to increase transmission fitness and the impact of asymptomatic malaria on the evolution of resistance) to more practical projects on influenza. Dr. Shim's recent studies include optimal H1N1 vaccination strategies from individual versus community perspectives, and social distancing during pandemic influenza.

Eunha's research areas include:

  • Modeling and simulation of health-related behaviors and health disparities
  • Game theoretical application to epidemiological modeling
  • Evolution of infectious diseases

Dr. Hasan Guclu Joins PHDL Faculty

Hasan Guclu June 15, 2010: The Public Health Dynamics Lab is pleased to announce that Dr. Hasan Guclu has joined the Lab. Dr. Guclu's research interests are computational epidemiology and social networks, parallel and distributed computing, and complex systems. His research has appeared in journals such as Science, Nature, Physical Review, IEEE Transactions, as well as attracted attention from media such as The New York Times, The Washington Times, and New Scientist. He obtained his Ph.D. degree in Statistical Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2005 and postdoctoral training on computational epidemiology at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico. He was formerly an assistant professor at the School of Mathematical Sciences, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

Hasan's research areas include:

  • Network modeling
  • Social networks for public health
  • Modeling, simulations and analysis of infectious disease spread
  • Statistical physics; peer-to-peer and sensor networks

Contact information:
Hasan Guclu, PhD
705 Parran Hall
University of Pittsburgh
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr. Shawn Brown Joins PHDL Faculty

Shawn Brown April 1, 2010: The Public Health Dynamics Lab is pleased to announce that Dr. Shawn Brown has joined the Lab. Shawn Brown is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biostatistics and a Research Fellow at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. Dr. Brown is a Co-Investigator for the National Institute of Health (NIH) Modeling of Infectious Diseases Agent Study (MIDAS) and Co-Principle Investigator on the MIDAS Information Technology Resource at RTI International and Lead for NIH MIDAS Network Software Working Group. He is co-investigator for the Vaccine Modeling Initiative, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He is also the lead of the TeraGrid Common Users Environments Working Group. His previous positions include Senior Scientific Specialist at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and Research Scientist at Q-Chem, Inc. Dr. Brown received his PhD in Quantum Chemistry at the University of Georgia and his B.S. in Chemistry at Bethany College, WV.

Shawn's research areas include:

•  Simulations for informed decision support
•  Vaccine supply chains in developing nations
•  Agent-based modeling of disease dynamics
•  High-performance computing in simulation and modeling

Contact information:
Shawn Brown, PhD
703 Parran Hall
University of Pittsburgh
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MIDAS Summer Research Fellows program

Date: June 1, 2010
Place: GSPH, University of Pittsburgh

summer students 2010The University of Pittsburgh Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS) National Center of Excellence hosts a summer research opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students in the field of computational modeling of infectious diseases. Through this ten-week Summer Research Program, participants will gain an appreciation of major research questions being raised at the intersection of public health, biological sciences, and computer technology. Participants  will work with MIDAS Investigators, experienced graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows, conducting exciting interdisciplinary research projects in this dynamic field. This intensive, research-based experience will prepare applicants interested in working at the interface of mathematics, computer science, engineering, statistics, epidemiology, public health, and the biological science for the rigors of scientific research and graduate education.



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