LDRD Seminar Series: ‘Are You Next to Catch the Bug? Simulating Disease Spread in Chicago’
Argonne Distinguished Fellow Charles Macal, senior systems engineer in the Global Security Sciences Division, will discuss his Laboratory-Directed Research and Development (LDRD) sponsored work at the LDRD Seminar Series presentation Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016.
“Are You Next to Catch the Bug? Simulating Disease Spread in Chicago” will begin at 12:30 p.m. in the Bldg. 203 Auditorium. All are welcome to attend.
As new disease outbreaks occur, many questions remain unanswered about how far each disease will spread, how to minimize the number of people affected and how the initial outbreak might have been prevented. These questions present novel research challenges for computational epidemiology that can only be addressed by using large-scale, highly detailed, computational models. The aim of Macal’s project is to develop new tools for addressing those questions for urban areas.
Argonne is collaborating with scientists from around the world to improve models and computational techniques for understanding disease outbreaks and identifying effective interventions. The team has developed an agent-based computer model for Chicago, the Chicago Social Interaction Model (chiSIM), that simulates the city’s population and the daily activities and contacts of individual “agents” at different locations in Chicago. During a simulated day, agents move from place to place, hour by hour, interacting with co-located agents and thereby potentially spreading disease.
Modeling at the level of the individual in chiSIM allows simulation of complex public health interventions, such as vaccination programs for measles that target the most susceptible age groups, and complex healthcare processes, such as the flow of Ebola patients to and through hospital systems. In addition to modeling complex disease processes, the team is addressing computational challenges for scaling simulations up to the city level and beyond: modeling the propagation of uncertainties in data and structural relationships to model predictions, managing simulations across distributed computing platforms and developing workflows for running ensembles of simulations and analyzing their results.
The generalized disease modeling capabilities in chiSIM will allow for the modeling of a variety of diseases, including influenza, pandemic diseases such as Ebola, and vector (mosquito) borne diseases such as the Zika and West Nile viruses. Beyond infectious diseases, chiSIM is extended to be a generalized model of social interaction processes that can be used to model information diffusion via socially connected agents. This work is advancing large-scale computational epidemiology and developing tools to inform public health and emergency preparedness interventions and policies.
During his more than 30 years at Argonne, Charles (Chick) Macal has conducted and directed multi- disciplinary systems projects developing innovative computational simulation models in the areas of national security, energy and infrastructure, the environment and healthcare, including infectious disease models. His work focuses on modeling large-scale social-technical systems, composed of people and their social environment and their interfaces to the technologies they use.
Scaling up such models using emerging computational architectures and algorithms is a challenge. A central focus of Macal’s research has been to understand how system interventions can best be incorporated into computer models to support decision- and policy-making.
He is a Senior Fellow with the Computation Institute and a Senior Fellow at the Energy Policy Institute at the Harris School, both at the University of Chicago. He is also a Fellow of the Northwestern University — Argonne Institute of Science and Engineering. He earned his doctorate in industrial engineering and management sciences at Northwestern University. Macal also teaches classes in environmental analysis methods at the Harris School and on threat response management and emergency preparedness at the Graham School at the University of Chicago.