NACCHO Staff Report: NIH Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS) 10th Anniversary Symposium

Date: Sept. 23-24, 2013
Staff Representative: Jack Herrmann
Member Representative: N/A

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences at NIH created an initiative called Modeling of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS) in 2004. This workshop highlighted the accomplishments of MIDAS over the past 10 years and presented a variety of computational modeling projects by academic institutions associated MIDAS. A special session focusing on modeling in preparedness was moderated by Jack Herrmann, NACCHO’s Senior Advisor and Chief, Public Health Programs, and highlighted projects on such topics as influenza pandemics (i.e., modeling disease spread), medical countermeasure distribution and dispensing (modeling dispensing of lifesaving vaccine and other medications), and crisis standards of care (modeling such things as ventilator allocation). Visit the website for more information about the workshop and to download the presentations. Videos of the workshop can be viewed online.

About Frances Bevington

Frances Bevington is the Senior Marketing and Communications Specialist for Public Health Preparedness at NACCHO. Her work includes emergency and risk communications planning, strategic messaging, and multichannel marketing for the adoption of best practices in public health preparedness. Twitter: @Wilkington

3 thoughts on “NACCHO Staff Report: NIH Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS) 10th Anniversary Symposium

  1. Robert McCreight
    October 4, 2013 at 9:02 am

    This may be of some limited value but I suspect there has been little forward progress in dealing with suspicious disease outbreaks where the index case and the offending pathogen cannot be easily discerned [see SARS event]. This situation crosses the boundary between public health and bioterrorism events because its sheer ambiguity fails to clarify whether we are operating under the BWC or WHO’s regulations–and all the CDC, DHS and DoD related activities. I am concerned that we have moved no further than where we were in 2004 when HSPD 10 was issued [a document which I helped co-author]—any word?? Thanks

    1. Jack Herrmann
      October 4, 2013 at 12:21 pm


      Thank you for your post. I think there is some progress being made in the collaboration of federal agencies that have a stakehold in surveillance. When a disease is detected through one of the nation’s current surveillance systems, CDC and DHS work together to determine the etiology of that disease. Clearly, if the etiology is bioterrorism related, then you are going to see DHS take a greater role in the coordination of the response. Even in those circumstances, DHS will be working with CDC and state/local health agencies to address those issue that impact “security” versus those that impact public health. While I believe these types of situations will present challenges no matter how well we’re organized, I’m confident that the right people will get around the right table and make the right decisions in the best interests of the public’s health and security.

      1. Robert McCreight
        October 4, 2013 at 2:33 pm

        Cannot share your optimism–I worked at the NSC and for WHO myself–there is an urgent need for bioforensically driven diagnostics and advanced research on pathogens which can be enhanced through modern synthetic biology methods. My own sense is that the interagency, and the highly fragmented laboratory community, has made minimal progress since the days of HSPD-10 where a robust attribution system was called for but never implemented. The science and technology behind such a system requires rigorous testing and periodic challenges. My chief concern is that we are naïve about our readiness to deal with a mass casualty bio-event and that our ability to distinguish naturally occurring outbreaks from designed outbreaks is still poor. Our government’s sad track record in credibility just makes it worse—we are still suffering from a passive-reactive way of thinking. If we are not more vigilant and proactive we will endure great hardship.

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