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1.  Simulation of an SEIR infectious disease model on the dynamic contact network of conference attendees 
BMC Medicine  2011;9:87.
The spread of infectious diseases crucially depends on the pattern of contacts between individuals. Knowledge of these patterns is thus essential to inform models and computational efforts. However, there are few empirical studies available that provide estimates of the number and duration of contacts between social groups. Moreover, their space and time resolutions are limited, so that data are not explicit at the person-to-person level, and the dynamic nature of the contacts is disregarded. In this study, we aimed to assess the role of data-driven dynamic contact patterns between individuals, and in particular of their temporal aspects, in shaping the spread of a simulated epidemic in the population.
We considered high-resolution data about face-to-face interactions between the attendees at a conference, obtained from the deployment of an infrastructure based on radiofrequency identification (RFID) devices that assessed mutual face-to-face proximity. The spread of epidemics along these interactions was simulated using an SEIR (Susceptible, Exposed, Infectious, Recovered) model, using both the dynamic network of contacts defined by the collected data, and two aggregated versions of such networks, to assess the role of the data temporal aspects.
We show that, on the timescales considered, an aggregated network taking into account the daily duration of contacts is a good approximation to the full resolution network, whereas a homogeneous representation that retains only the topology of the contact network fails to reproduce the size of the epidemic.
These results have important implications for understanding the level of detail needed to correctly inform computational models for the study and management of real epidemics.
Please see related article BMC Medicine, 2011, 9:88
PMCID: PMC3162551  PMID: 21771290
2.  Predictability and epidemic pathways in global outbreaks of infectious diseases: the SARS case study 
BMC Medicine  2007;5:34.
The global spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic has clearly shown the importance of considering the long-range transportation networks in the understanding of emerging diseases outbreaks. The introduction of extensive transportation data sets is therefore an important step in order to develop epidemic models endowed with realism.
We develop a general stochastic meta-population model that incorporates actual travel and census data among 3 100 urban areas in 220 countries. The model allows probabilistic predictions on the likelihood of country outbreaks and their magnitude. The level of predictability offered by the model can be quantitatively analyzed and related to the appearance of robust epidemic pathways that represent the most probable routes for the spread of the disease.
In order to assess the predictive power of the model, the case study of the global spread of SARS is considered. The disease parameter values and initial conditions used in the model are evaluated from empirical data for Hong Kong. The outbreak likelihood for specific countries is evaluated along with the emerging epidemic pathways. Simulation results are in agreement with the empirical data of the SARS worldwide epidemic.
The presented computational approach shows that the integration of long-range mobility and demographic data provides epidemic models with a predictive power that can be consistently tested and theoretically motivated. This computational strategy can be therefore considered as a general tool in the analysis and forecast of the global spreading of emerging diseases and in the definition of containment policies aimed at reducing the effects of potentially catastrophic outbreaks.
PMCID: PMC2213648  PMID: 18031574

Results 1-2 (2)