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Public Health Dynamics Seminars

March 11, 2019 - Unraveling Transmission Patterns in Tuberculosis

Laura F. White, PhD, Associate Professor

Department of Biostatistics, Boston University School of Public Health

Monday, March 11, 2019
12:00 – 1:00 PM
1149 Public Health


Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of death due to infectious disease globally, yet our understanding of its transmission patterns and incidence are limited. With the WHO's goal to eliminate TB by 2030, tools to monitor progression toward this goal are needed. In this talk, Dr. White will discuss work to estimate transmission patterns of TB using routinely collected data, as well as data from commonly conducted epidemiological studies. She will focus on estimation of the serial interval, which has not been studied in TB. Using a cure model and interval censoring techniques, we have developed estimates of the serial interval that can inform modeling studies and public health practice in TB control. She will also show how we can use routinely collected surveillance data and these estimates of the serial interval to generate estimates of the reproductive number. These estimates can be created across heterogeneous groups to reveal areas where transmission is occurring most, allowing for more focused allocation of resources. Dr. White will describe an approach for understanding the transmission tree, using routinely collected surveillance data and limited genetic information. This method allows us to infer the reproductive number in the absence of a reliable estimate of the serial interval and better understand pairwise transmission probabilities.

About the speaker:

LWhite-smLaura F White is an associate professor of Biostatistics at Boston University's School of Public Health. She completed her PhD at Harvard where her work focused on developing statistical methods for understanding infectious disease transmission dynamics using surveillance data. At BU, she has continued to work in this area. She currently has an NIH-funded project to develop approaches for understanding tuberculosis transmission patterns and burden. She additionally is working with collaborators on developing models to determine optimal treatment strategies for opioid use disorder and the impact of substance use on tuberculosis outcomes. Dr. White teaches courses on statistical methods for public health surveillance and disease outbreak investigations.

















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