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Professor Peter Allen
Professor Henrik Jeldtoft Jensen
Dr Babak Pourbohloul, Dr Krista M. English and Dr Nathaniel Hupert
The increase in emerging infectious diseases has led to the allocation of significant time and resources for the development of pandemic preparedness plans worldwide. Nevertheless, real-time management of emerging disease outbreaks is often marked by confusion and uncertainty as decision-makers are challenged to make impactful decisions with little time and incomplete information. Health authorities typically approach such threats by individual level interventions, such as vaccines and antivirals. This does not, however, detail how these targeted interventions and countermeasures should be used to optimally benefit total population health. Mathematical modelling of complex systems represents the bridging science that is needed. This chapter discusses the conceptual design and structure of mathematical models of communicable diseases, using transmission dynamics in the context of respiratory-borne pathogens within human populations. It demonstrates the necessity of assembling appropriate expertise related to mathematical modelling, epidemiology, public health, virology, and clinical management to ensure valuable quantitative decision-support tools to assist policymakers at the time of crisis.
Eve Mitleton-Kelly, Alexandros Paraskevas and Christopher Day
Professor Yaneer Bar-Yam
The structure of scientific inquiry is being transformed by broad relevance of the strategies and methods of complex systems science for understanding physical, biological and social systems. Disciplinary and cross-disciplinary interactions are giving way to trans-disciplinary and unified efforts to address the relevance of large amounts of information to description, understanding and control of complex systems. From the study of biomolecular interactions to the workings of the mind to global socio-economic risks, pandemics and environmental disasters, complexity has arisen as a unifying feature of challenges to understanding and action. In this arena, information, structure, function and action are entangled. New approaches that recognize the importance of collective patterns of behaviour, the multi-scale space of possibilities, and evolutionary or adaptive processes that select systems or behaviours that can be effective are central to advancing our understanding and capabilities.