This research aims to improve public health policy and practice by incorporating social behavior into mathematical models of infectious disease spread and by providing a better understanding of how proposed health-related policies will work when put into practice.

Project Summary

The objective of this project is to incorporate social behavior into mathematical models of infectious disease transmission dynamics, with a focus on influenza like illness. The inferences of this project will improve our understanding of the impact of different control and prevention strategies for infectious disease epidemics in general and Influenza epidemics in particular. Our hypothesis is that individual behavior, disease dynamics, and interventions coevolve across multiple scales to create statistically and epidemiologically significant differences in the efficacy and social equity of public health policies such as infectious disease control strategies.

This project extends well studied computational simulations to include people's behaviors relevant to infectious disease epidemics and will be used to determine the consequences of feedback between population-level effects and individual-level behavior. In particular, we will determine the sensitivity of outcomes to particular behaviors. A survey designed to focus on those particular behaviors will be used to estimate variability across communities.

Team Members

  • Achla Marathe (Contact PI), Professor, Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech and Agricultural and Applied Economics
  • Kaja Abbas (PI), Assistant Professor, Population Health Sciences
  • Samarth Swarup, Research Assistant Professor, Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech
  • Jiangzhuo Chen, Research Associate Professor, Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech
  • Stephen Eubank, Professor, Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech and Population Health Sciences
  • Bryan Lewis, Research Associate Professor, Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech
  • Kevin Boyle, Professor, Agricultural and Applied Economics
  • Pamela Murray-Tuite, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering


  • Gloria Kang, MPH (Infectious Disease)/PhD Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences
  • James Schlitt, PhD in Genetics, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology
  • Narges Dorratoltaj, MPH (Infectious Disease) / PhD (Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences)
  • Lijing Wang, PhD, Computer Science
  • Shuyu Chu, PhD, Statistics

Journal Publications

  • Yi M, Marathe A. Fairness versus Efficiency of Vaccine Allocation Strategies. Value in Health. 2015 Mar;18(2):278-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jval.2014.11.009. Epub 2015 Jan 14. PubMed PMID: 25773563; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4361778.
  • Abbas KM, Dorratoltaj N, O’Dell ML, Bordwine P, Kerkering TM, Redican KJ. Clinical Response, Outbreak Investigation, and Epidemiology of the Fungal Meningitis Epidemic in the United States: Systematic Review. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 145-151, 2016. DOI: 10.1017/dmp.2015.137; PMID: 26681583
  • Abbas KM, Dorratoltaj N, O’Dell ML, Bordwine P, Kerkering TM, Redican KJ. Economic Evaluation of a Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Response in New River Valley: Local Health Department Perspective. Frontiers in Public Health Services and Systems Research, vol. 4, no. 4, 2015.  DOI:10.13023/FPHSSR.0404.04; PMID: 26317059; PMCID: PMC4548891
  • H. Xia, K. Nagaraj, J. Chen, M. Marathe (2015) Synthesis of a High Resolution Social Contact Network for Delhi with Application to Pandemic Planning. Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine, 65(2): 113-30.
  • KA Alexander, CE Sanderson, M Marathe, BL Lewis, CM Rivers, Jeffrey Shaman, John M Drake, Eric Lofgren, Virginia M Dato, Marisa C Eisenberg, Stephen Eubank. What factors might have led to the emergence of Ebola in West Africa? PLoS Negl Trop Dis 9 (6), e0003652, 2015.
  • Eric HY Lau, Jiandong Zheng, Tim K Tsang, Qiaohong Liao, Bryan Lewis, John S Brownstein, Sharon Sanders, Sumiko R Mekaru, Caitlin Rivers, Gabriel M Leung, Luzhao Feng, Benjamin J Cowling, Hongjie Yu. Epidemiological inferences using public information, influenza H7N9 epidemic in China. Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, 2015; 7(1): e143. PMCID: PMC4512320
  • James T Schlitt, Bryan Lewis, Stephen Eubank. ChatterGrabber: A Lightweight Easy to Use Social Media Surveillance Toolkit. Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, 2015; 7(1): e52. PMCID: PMC4512463
  •  Benjamin M Althouse, Samuel V Scarpino, Lauren Ancel Meyers, John W Ayers, Marisa Bargsten, Joan Baumbach, John S Brownstein, Lauren Castro, Hannah Clapham, Derek AT Cummings, Sara Del Valle, Stephen Eubank, Geoffrey Fairchild, Lyn Finelli, Nicholas Generous, Dylan George, David R Harper, Laurent Hébert-Dufresne, Michael A Johansson, Kevin Konty, Marc Lipsitch, Gabriel Milinovich, Joseph D Miller, Elaine O Nsoesie, Donald R Olson, Michael Paul, Philip M Polgreen, Reid Priedhorsky, Jonathan M Read, Isabel Rodríguez-Barraquer, Derek J Smith, Christian Stefansen, David L Swerdlow, Deborah Thompson, Alessandro Vespignani, Amy Wesolowski. Enhancing disease surveillance with novel data streams: challenges and opportunities. EPJ Data Science, December 2015, 4:17.
  • Yasamin Khorramzadeh, Mina Youssef, Stephen Eubank, Shahir Mowlaei. Analyzing network reliability using structural motifs. Phys. Rev. E 91, 30 April 2015.

Conference Presentations

  • Samarth Swarup, S. S. Ravi, M. M. Hassan Mahmud, Kristian Lum. Identifying Core Network Structure for Epidemic Simulations. Proceedings of the 12th International Workshop on Agents and Data-Mining Interaction (ADMI), 2016.
  • Nidhi Parikh, Madhav V. Marathe, Samarth Swarup. Summarizing Simulation Results using Causally-relevant States. Proceedings of the 17th International Workshop on Multi-Agent Based Simulation (MABS), 2016.
  • Nidhi Parikh, Madhav V. Marathe, Samarth Swarup. Integrating Behavior and Microsimulation Models. Proceedings of the First Workshop on Agent Based Modeling of Urban Systems (ABMUS), 2016.
  • Nidhi Parikh, Harshal G. Hayatnagarkar, Richard J. Beckman, Madhav V. Marathe, Samarth Swarup. A Comparison of Multiple Behavior Models in a Simulation of the Aftermath of an Improvised Nuclear Detonation. Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, Special Issue on Autonomous Agents for Agent-Based Modeling, 2016.
  • Nidhi Parikh, Madhav V. Marathe, Samarth Swarup. Simulation Summarization. Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, Singapore, May 2016.
  • Abhijin Adiga, Shuyu Chu, Achla Marathe and Anil Vullikanti. Can social distancing compensate for the unvaccinated? Annual Conference of the Computational Social Science Society of the Americas (CSSSA), Santa Fe, NM, Oct 29 - Nov1, 2015.
  • Liang Zhao, Jiangzhuo Chen, Feng Chen, Wei Wang, Chang-Tien Lu, and Naren Ramakrishnan. SimNest: Social Media Nested Epidemic Simulation via Online Semi-supervised Deep Learning. Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Data Mining (ICDM), pp. 639-648. Atlantic City, NJ. November, 2015. 
  • Suruchi Deodhar, Jiangzhuo Chen, Mandy Wilson, Manikandan Soundarapandian, Keith Bisset, Bryan Lewis, Chris Barrett, and Madhav Marathe. FluCaster: A Pervasive Web Application For High Resolution Situation Assessment and Forecasting of Flu Outbreaks. Proceedings of the 2nd IEEE International Conference on Healthcare Informatics (ICHI), pp. 105-114. Dallas, TX. October, 2015.  
  • Suruchi Deodhar, Jiangzhuo Chen, Mandy Wilson, Keith Bisset, Bryan Lewis, Chris Barrett, and Madhav Marathe. EpiCaster: An Integrated Web Application For Situation Assessment and Forecasting of Global Epidemics. Proceedings of the 6th ACM Conference on Bioinformatics, Computational Biology and Health Informatics (ACM-BCB), pp. 156-165. Atlanta, GA. September, 2015.
  • A. Marathe. Projecting the Spread of Infectious Diseases. In a session: Ebola: Predicting it, Addressing it, and Food Security Impacts. Agricultural and Applied Economic Association (AAEA) Annual meeting, July 2015, San Francisco.
  • A. Adiga, S. Chu, A. Marathe, A. Vullikanti. Vaccination or social distancing: A public health dilemma. Invited talk at INFORMS Healthcare Conference, Nashville, TN, July 2015.
  • K. Abbas. Disease Burden, Dynamics, Economics and Policy. One day workshop under the theme of Big Data in Healthcare, School of Information Technology & Engineering, VIT University, Vellore, India, January 2015.K. Abbas, A. Marathe and S. Swarup. Understanding Feedback Between Behavioral Interventions and Disease Evolution. INFORMS Annual meeting, November 2015, Philadelphia.
  • Kang G., R. Culp, A. Marathe, K. Abbas. Parental Factors Associated with Influenza School Located Vaccination Program in the United States. 6th Annual CUGH conference, Mobilizing Research for Global Health, Boston March 2015.
  • Lopez, D., Gunasekaran, M., Murugan, B. S., Kaur, H., & Abbas, K. M. (2014). Spatial big data analytics of influenza epidemic in Vellore, India. In 2014 IEEE International Conference on Big Data (Big Data), pp:19-24.
  • A. Adiga, R. Beckman, K. Bisset, J. Chen, Y. Chung Baek, S. Eubank, S. Gupta, M. Khan, C. Kuhlman, E. Lofgren, B. Lewis, A. Marathe, M. Marathe, H. Mortveit, E. Nordberg, C. Rivers, P. Stretz, S. Swarup, A. Wilson, D. Xie. Synthetic Populations for Epidemic Modeling. International conference on computational social sciences (ICCSS) in December 2014.

Book Chapters

  • Barrett C., S. Eubank, A. Marathe, M. Marathe, S. Swarup. Synthetic Information Environments for Policy Informatics: A Distributed Cognition Perspective. Governance in the Information Era: Theory and Practice of Policy Informatics, edited by E. W. Johnston, published by Taylor and Francis, 2015.
  • Maksudul Alam, Vida Abedi, Josep Bassaganya-Riera, Katherine Wendelsdorf, Keith Bisset, Xinwei Deng, Stephen Eubank, Raquel Hontecillas, Stefan Hoops, Madhav Marathe. Agent-Based Modeling and High Performance Computing. Computational Immunology: Models and Tools, Chapter 6, Edited by J. Bassaganya-Riera, Publisher: Elsevier, 2015.

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