Modeling and Forecasting Infectious Disease Spread
Combating infectious diseases continues to be one of the most important and challenging problems in public health. Professor Minin is developing statistical data integration methods for real-time modeling and forecasting of the spread of infectious diseases. “These methods play an important role in evaluating outbreak containment and mitigation strategies — for example, by estimating vaccine efficacy and the effects of nonpharmaceutical interventions,” he says. “They also help with optimal allocation of limited resources in time and space.”
Evolutionary Processes in Viruses, Bacteria, and Immune System
Genetic sequences of viruses and bacteria help epidemiologists track the spread of these pathogens through populations and even reconstruct transmission networks (outlining who infected whom). Professor Minin develops new methods for these genomic epidemiology applications. “Similar techniques and data allow us to observe, almost in real time, a process during which our immune system uses an evolutionary trial-and-error system to produce antibodies that help our bodies fight pathogens,” he says. “I am working on methods that help us learn important details about this antibody formation process.”
Differentiation of Stem Cells into Mature Blood Cells
Studies of hematopoiesis, a process of blood cell formation, require understanding of how hematopoietic stem cells in our bone marrow constantly replicate and differentiate to produce mature blood cells (such as granulocytes, T cells, B cells, and natural killer cells). “Answering fundamental questions about hematopoiesis is clinically important,” he says, “because all blood cell diseases, including leukemias, are caused by malfunctions in some part of the hematopoiesis process.” Professor Minin is developing methods for analyzing high throughput experimental techniques that allow us to peek inside the hematopoiesis process.