The University of Michigan is among 13 institutions that will receive funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be part of a national network of centers focused on predicting and responding to future disease outbreaks.
U-M will receive a $17.5 million grant over five years to establish the Michigan Public Health Integrated Center for Outbreak Analytics and Modeling, or MICOM.
Housed within the School of Public Health, MICOM is a partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and a national collaboration among institutions’ experts, who represent a wide variety of disciplines.
At U-M, researchers from the College of Engineering, School of Information, Medical School and LSA will also lend their expertise to the effort.
“This center is a remarkable opportunity to build on the strong partnerships between the University of Michigan and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to integrate outbreak analytics, modeling and forecasting into public health practice and improve public health in Michigan and beyond,” said Marisa Eisenberg, associate professor of epidemiology and complex systems and director of the center.
The 13 institutions, or funded partners of the CDC, will receive a total of $250 million in grants over five years to establish their own centers and work alongside the CDC and state and local health departments.
The funding comes from the CDC’s Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, a federal initiative launched in April 2022 to enhance the nation’s ability to respond to public health threats with timely, effective decision-making informed by data, modeling and analytics.
Establishing the new network is the first step in creating a nationwide resource for outbreak analytics, disease modeling and forecasting to support more effective, real-time response during public health emergencies.
“Each of the grantees will help us move the nation forward in our efforts to better prepare and respond to infectious disease outbreaks that threaten our families and our communities,” said Dylan George, director of the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics.
“We are committed to working alongside these outstanding partners to achieve our goal of using data and advanced analytics to support decision-makers at every level of government.”
MICOM will support the development of modeling and data analytics tools and pipelines to be integrated into MDHHS workflows to address public health emergencies and current infectious disease threats. Joe Coyle, director of the MDHHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Prevention, is the project lead for the state’s involvement.
Emily Toth Martin, associate professor of epidemiology and center co-director, said one of MICOM’s focus areas will be integrating and refining these modeling and data analytics tools for state and local public health partners to support data-driven decision-making and solutions.
“Systems for evidence-based decision-making and communication of data to public health officials need to be in place before we need to respond to an outbreak. The work of this network will save valuable time in responding to future disease threats,” Martin said.
SPH researchers have previously partnered with MDHHS to provide resources that have led to the integration of modeling into MDHHS decision-making for COVID-19, influenza, hepatitis A, hepatitis C and other threats.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Eisenberg and Martin helped the state provide critical disease modeling and surveillance information and were part of a larger U-M team to develop the MI Safe Start Map and to provide tools to support public health departments in vaccination efforts.
Eisenberg also is working on wastewater surveillance tools, which earlier this year were expanded to include the tracking of Mpox, influenza-A, norovirus GII and respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV.
“The ability to monitor and detect disease threats is a critical part of public health,” Eisenberg said. “We are excited that MICOM will connect our collaboration between Michigan Public Health and MDHHS to national partners at the CDC’s Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics to integrate analytics into public health practice.”
U-M researchers include Michelle Ammerman, Rada Mihalcea, Alexander Rodriguez, Jenna Wiens and Krista Wigginton of CoE; Tom Schwarz of LSA; Adam Lauring and Evan Snitkin of the Medical School; and Andrew Brouwer, Joseph Eisenberg, Betsy Foxman, Michael Hayashi, Jennifer Head, Sharon Kardia, Arnold Monto, Bhramar Mukherjee, Laura Power, Michael Rubyan, Abram L. Wagner and Jon Zelner of SPH.