At the Modeling for Public Health Action conference, the first plenary panel discussion on Friday morning had the title “Biggest Bang: Public Health Domains that Could Most Benefit from Modeling and Simulation Research.” The speakers included Rear Admiral Stephen B. Thacker, Dr. Irene Eckstrand (DHS), Dr. Donald Burke (University of Pittsburgh), and Professor Stephen Eubank (Virginia Tech).
Thacker discussed different measures that can be used to make decisions, including mortality, disability-adjusted life year (DALY), cost, hospital days, years of potential life lost (YPLL). Optimizing different measures leads to different decisions.
Eckstrand emphasized the role of modeling to answering the questions: “If I do this, what will happen? Under what conditions will something happen?” and highlighted the need to model social interactions not only of disease transmission but also of information sharing.
Burke reviewed the models developed at the Public Health Dynamics Lab, including large-scale agent-based simulation models that require supercomputers, and a recent workshop on Systems Thinking In Public Health.
Eubank is a Professor at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute and is a leader of the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory, which (according to its web site) “designs, develops and implements simulation tools to understand large biological, information, social, and technological systems.”