CDC invests $263M to forecast infectious disease threats

The CDC is dolling out $262.5 million over five years to research centers across the U.S. The goal? To develop a national network that can forecast infectious disease outbreaks, something akin to the National Weather Service, according to a Sept. 20 Boston Globe report. 

"It is so, so deeply needed," Megan Ranney, MD, PhD, dean of the Yale School of Public Health, who is not involved with the project, told the Globe. "In public health, we currently don't have systems that are the equivalent of satellites and radar. I'm hoping this will lead to that kind of equivalent capacity for infectious disease outbreaks." 

The CDC's new Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics is housing the project, and 13 research centers across the U.S. will receive funding to participate in testing algorithms and methods to forecast a pathogen's activity. Some of the funding will also go to public health authorities at the state and local level to foster stronger relationships between those entities and academia, so that information can flow more seamlessly between the two in an infectious disease outbreak. 

Boston-based Northeastern University is a participant in the project, which will receive $17.4 million over the next five years to create an innovation center designed to help communities detect and prepare for future disease threats. The center will lead a consortium of 10 research institutions, health systems and private companies that will leverage tools such as wastewater surveillance, artificial intelligence and machine learning to support its efforts. 

Read more about the effort, which the CDC has not yet publicly released information on, here.

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