PS5-4 : What research network to deal with outbreaks of emerging pathogens ?

Infectious disease outbreaks
Over the past few decades the rise of emerging infectious diseases has been catapulted to its extremities, with the emergence of large-scale outbreaks such as Polio, Measles, Zika and Ebola. The enormity of the associated disease burden cannot be overlooked, with a single state in Brazil reporting 56318 suspected cases throughout the Zika outbreak. The cost of these outbreaks span beyond morbidity and mortality, but also posed more hidden consequences, such as social exclusion, thus qualifying infectious disease outbreaks as a major public health concern.

Interdisciplinary research networks
Complex and dynamic research networks are required to tackle outbreaks, by refining techniques, capacity building between different actors and knowledge transfer and exchange. A more dynamic research network is required to tackle the complexity of infectious disease outbreaks, integrating multiple disciplines (i.e. life science, social science, data science) all rooted in a unique synergy to best achieve desired outcomes.


Data sources, collection and sharing
A major challenge of complex research networks is data, ultimately the DNA of research. Problems have been identified with establishing secure pathways for open and ethical data sharing, but also with data sources and collection itself. Different disciplines may also experience challenges with identifying points of confluence for data integration. Therefore establishing the parameters for a secure data system, which benefits all involved is of paramount importance.


Precision Epidemic Forecasting
A primary example of a newly constituted research network is that of Precision Epidemic Forecasting, an ambitious grant application hoping to answer the ambitious call of the National Centre for Competence in Research (NCCR) set out by the Swiss Scientific National Foundation. The Centre for Precision Epidemic Forecasting aims to propel forecasting and nowcasting into the future by integrating digital technologies in global health, rooted in a unique synergy between life science, social science and data science.



The aim of this workshop is to discuss what research networks are required to deal with outbreaks of emerging pathogens, and more specifically to:

  • Identify strategies for fostering interdisciplinary
  • Asses the role of digital technologies in research networks
  • Determine parameters for data collection, data sharing and open access
  • Locate points of confluence for data integration
  • Discuss the importance of capacity building within research networks



Keiser OliviaChairmanUniGeSwitzerland
Merson LauraWWARN UK
Raja DhesiArtificial Intelligence in Medical EpidemiologyAime Malaysia
Van Domselaar GaryIRIDA Canada



PS : Parallel session PS-4 : Research and development
Location: Date: April 12, 2018 Time: 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm Keiser Olivia Merson Laura Raja Dhesi Van Domselaar Gary