Professor Pej Rohani has been awarded two Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS) grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Rohani is the principal investigator in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan on a five-year MIDAS Center grant of $1.6 million that began Aug. 1, 2014. The MIDAS Center is a network of infectious disease modelers, directed by Dr. Betz Halloran at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash.

“We will be focusing on dengue and polio,” Rohani, who is affiliated with the Center for the Study of Complex Systems (CSCS), said. “Our approach will be to use models and modern computational statistics in order to understand epidemiological data for these infections. We hope to better understand, for example, the role of environmental (climatic) drivers in dengue transmission dynamics.” They will also investigate how long immunity to polio lasts when someone is vaccinated with the inactivated vaccine.

U-M collaborators for this project are EEB Professors Aaron King, who is also affiliated with the Department of Mathematics and CSCS and Mercedes Pascual, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator who is also affiliated with CSCS, Ed Ionides, Department of Statistics, and Jim Koopman with the School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology.

The mission of the MIDAS Center is to provide national and international leadership in four major thematic areas: infectious disease research; computational, statistical, and mathematical research; education and outreach; and public health policy. The proposal includes 30 key faculty at eight participating institutions, and many additional affiliated faculty.

A MIDAS project grant of some $1.2 million is coordinated by Dr. John Drake from the University of Georgia with Rohani as principal U-M investigator. The five-year grant that began Aug. 1, 2014 funds a project that proposes to develop methods for forecasting epidemics of emerging infectious diseases. “These algorithms, if successful, will serve as early warning systems,” said Rohani.

Rohani’s U-M collaborator is Professor Bogdan Epureanu, College of Engineering. The team includes Dr. Matt Ferrari, Penn State University, and Dr. Andrew Park, University of Georgia.