Pandemics Control, Prediction and Preparedness

Pathogen evolution and escape

The ongoing pandemic offers a unique opportunity for the real-time study of extended illnesses associated with COVID-19 and the immune responses in various groups of people, specifically older adults. Advanced laboratory and modeling techniques are being used to improve COVID-19 tests, and track the virus’s ability to evade the immune system and the probability of reinfection. The knowledge researchers gain about the coronavirus and COVID-19 can be used to develop new therapies and methods to protect vulnerable populations now, while also providing a framework for future pandemics.

Public health responses

A comprehensive and effective public health response is vital to keep communities, especially underrepresented minority groups and those in rural areas, safe in the face of new pandemics. Early detection of disease outbreaks is critical and will be enhanced through the development of better systems to monitor communities, simulation models to predict outcomes, and strategies to acquire community support and reduce vaccine hesitancy. 

Sentinel alert system / waste water

SARS-CoV-2 is presenting an unprecedented challenge to public health containment measures due to both airborne transmission and late detection of the virus. New detection systems, such as wastewater-based tests, are necessary to prevent community spread of the virus. Public health safety measures such as social distancing guidelines and mask requirements are being analyzed to determine the effects of policy on the incidence of COVID-19 in communities across the U.S. and provide empirical evidence to inform future policy decisions.

Virus and immune response

There is an urgent need to understand defects of immunity against SARS-CoV-2, especially in older adults, and the duration of immunity, which varies widely with the specific vaccine or infection. The current pandemic presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address these needs and fill the gaps in knowledge, with the purpose to protect both adult and older populations from COVID-19.

Pillar Lead

Felicia Goodrum

Felicia Goodrum

Professor, Immunobiology

Kacey Ernst

Kacey Ernst

Professor, Epidemiology