BLACKSBURG, Va., September 14, 2006 - The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) will host a workshop on modeling emerging infectious diseases as part of the MIDAS (Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study) program on September 25-27.

The three-day workshop will bring together leading experts and decision makers from academia, national laboratories, and governmental agencies. An informal reception, which will include introductory remarks from Bruno Sobral, Executive and Scientific Director of VBI, will take place on the evening of Monday September 25 at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute. Further details on the social event are given at the end of this release.

MIDAS MIDAS is a research partnership with a mandate to develop computational models for policy makers, public health workers and other researchers. The computational models developed by partners in the MIDAS network are used to assist in making better-informed decisions about natural or intentionally caused emerging infectious diseases. MIDAS also plays a role in planning for national emergencies or acts of bioterrorism.

Stephen Eubank, Deputy Director of the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory at VBI, commented: “One of the specific themes of this MIDAS workshop is to look in detail at how results from the computer modeling and simulation of infectious disease outbreaks can be most effectively transformed into public policy. Participants at the workshop will discuss the many challenges of interpreting models of complex systems and developing optimal public policy from these models.”

Infectious diseases pose one of the most significant threats to public health worldwide. Recent outbreaks of avian influenza and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) have highlighted the vulnerability of individuals to the effects of existing and emerging infectious diseases.

MIDAS researchers are currently working on modeling outbreaks of influenza, a disease that could pose a serious challenge to global public health if a new pandemic were to occur. MIDAS is funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), which is part of the National Institutes of Health.


Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS) is a collaboration of research and informatics groups established to develop computational models of the interactions between infectious agents and their hosts, disease spread, prediction systems, and response strategies. The models will be useful to policymakers, public health workers, and other researchers who want to better understand and respond to emerging infectious diseases. If a disease outbreak occurs, the MIDAS network may be called upon to develop specific models to aid public officials in their decision-making processes. 

For more information on the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory at VBI, please consult

About the social event

A social event for participants of the workshop will take place on the evening of Monday September 25 at 18:00 in the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute main lobby. If you are a journalist and interested in attending the social event, please contact Barry Whyte, Research Communications Officer at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, prior to the meeting for further details (e-mail ; tel: 540 231 1767).


Susan Bland
(540) 231-7912;

Published by Susan Bland, September 13, 2006