U-M receives CDC grant to establish new center for disease outbreak prediction and response

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have granted the University of Michigan (U-M) $17.5 million over five years to establish a new center to predict and respond to future infectious disease outbreaks. The center will be called the Michigan Public Health Integrated Center for Outbreaks Analytics and Modeling (MICOM).
"The big focus of MICOM is really to try to integrate outbreak analytics, forecasting, modeling, [and] data and visualization," says Marisa Eisenberg, director of MICOM and U-M associate professor of epidemiology and complex systems.
The work at MICOM will build upon existing partnerships between U-M and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Eisenberg says the new center will be "leveling up that partnership" to begin including outbreak data, modeling, and forecasting in the existing process for preparing for and responding to outbreaks. 
MICOM will be one of 13 centers nationwide to receive funding from the CDC. It will join a network of institutions dedicated to outbreak analytics and disease modeling.
"We'll come together, have meetings, share models, [and] share methods," Eisenberg says. "... Some of the centers are more focused around developing new methods. Other centers, like ours, are more focused around integrating the best state-of-the-art modeling and analytical tools into regular public health practice. So different centers will have different roles and we'll interact with one another to share what we find, what works, [and] what doesn't."
Eisenberg's goal for MICOM's first year is to establish the center's staffing and organizational structure. After that, she says she wants to make sure the "data pipelines" are in order.
"It's surprising how much of this work actually is just about making sure the data is going to the right places that it needs to be going in a way that's interpretable and understandable," Eisenberg says.

Natalia Holtzman is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. Her work has appeared in publications such as the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Literary Hub, The Millions, and others.
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