Mathematical and Computational Predictive (MCP) Modeling Core

Reducing the burden of global infectious disease is one of the most important public health problems in the world today, but it presents a number of stubborn challenges. Among the most important of these challenges are, 1) to understand the dynamic interface (immunologic, inflammatory, microbiome-related, pathophysiologic) between an infectious pathogen and its human host, particularly in terms of the complex factors that determine host susceptibility to or protection from clinical disease, 2) to understand the dynamics of disease transmission and how they are affected by environmental and behavioral pressures, and 3) to predict and measure the impact of interventions (vaccine, therapeutic, public health) with the goal of working toward global improvements in public health.

Meeting these challenges requires not only a broad knowledge base that includes the natural history of the disease, its intra-host mechanism of action, its inter-host mode of transmission, and large sets of complex -omic and demographic data, but also the ability to integrate this knowledge into quantitative predictions of outcomes. This can only be done effectively when the relevant processes are translated into mathematical expressions or algorithms that are implemented computationally so that their predictions can be exhaustively examined. It is only when this predictive capacity is developed through close, ongoing collaboration between computational and biomedical scientists, and the resulting predictions are communicated/displayed in an intuitively comprehensible manner, that the full power of large data sets can be harnessed to reduce the burden of global infectious disease.

The goal of the Mathematical and Computational Predictive (MCP) Modeling Core is to provide the expertise and resources necessary to bring MCP modeling to the Translational Global Infectious Disease Research (TGIR) COBRE, with special focus on the junior faculty projects. By direct interaction with the COBRE faculty, its educational components, and by use of the “Innovation and Collaboration” laboratory, the MCP Modeling Core will bridge the scientific “culture gap” between the scientists with biomedical backgrounds and those with computational modeling expertise.

Human and Population Research (HPR) Core

The Human and Population Research (HPR) Core is a new core in the TGIR COBRE that will facilitate and accelerate high-quality, new and existing clinical and translational human research by the COBRE faculty. It does not duplicate existing services at UVM. The Core will have four components, as well as educational opportunities. Components include: a) Research Navigator, b) Regulatory and Study Management services, c) Biostatistics and Data Management, and d) Biorepository and Specimen Management. A key feature of the HPR Core will be its Research Navigator component, which will coordinate a team to advise junior investigators in the maturation of new research ideas and initiatives, articulation of hypotheses, and design of proposed research. The Core will also accelerate research progress by diminishing roadblocks in the practical performance of the proposed human and population research. Complementing the Research Navigator, the Core will offer hands-on assistance in training and maneuvering the complexities of clinical and translational research, including regulatory and compliance services, and study team build-up, as well as access to datasets, advanced biostatistics, specimens and relevant populations. These services will benefit the junior faculty by facilitating and developing their ability to design, plan and initiate innovative, high-quality research. The HPR Core will benefit the overall development of the center by serving as a research platform to amplify the center’s research capabilities, develop and encourage investigators at all levels of training, and to support and extend the theme of Global Infectious Disease Research. It will complement the COBRE’s Mathematical and Computational Predictive (MCP) Modeling Core by facilitating access and creation of new data for computational model validation. The HPR Core’s educational features will include fundamental training in clinical and translational research, including regulatory practices and research ethics, as well as seminars that leverage current strengths (e.g., development of vaccines and candidate therapeutics).