Mathematics and epidemiology in Erice

September 17, 2015

From August 30 to September 5, the “Ettore Majorana” Centre for Scientific Culture in Erice hosted the “Mathematical and Computational Epidemiology of Infectious diseases” international conference. Aim of this event was to illustrate the major areas of research in mathematical and computational modelling of the spread of infectious diseases, and the huge variety of tools and approaches that are currently employed.

Experts from all over the world gathered to participate to an intense peer-to-peer discussion on several topics related to mathematical biology, biomedicine, epidemiology and crisis management. National and international health authorities adopt routinely methodologies and concept that were born in the field of mathematical and computational epidemiology (MCE) for assisting public health decisions and policies. A major example is provided by the huge advancement in modelling and prediction on pandemic threats, and related preparedness plans for disease containment.

One of greatest challenges in modern MCE is finding ways to take into the account new complexity layers often ignored in this field of research. A major critical issue is human mobility at various scales. Understanding human mobility is the clue for predicting pandemics travelling and defining mitigation measures. On the other hand, human behaviour and its relationship with the available information on the evolution of the epidemics, is another unsettled issue. For example, is a prevailing issue needed to model the pseudo-rational objection to vaccinations and the response to pandemic threats.


Vincenzo Capasso (University of Milan) explains how mathematics may help to optimize the response to an epidemic and reduce its impact.

Vittoria Colizza (INSERM, Paris) describes the use of mathematical models to build synthetic scenarios where is possible to recreate the spread of an infectious diseases and then test possible responses.

Alberto d’Onofrio (International Prevention Research Institute, Lyon) talks about the use of mathematical models to understand the impact of public health campaigns.

Edward Hill (University of Warwick) explains how mathematics can be used to determine the main factors behind the spread of an infectious diseases within animal populations, in order to outline strategies to prevent spillovers.

Piero Manfredi (University of Pisa) talks about risk perception and the conflict between public and individual rationality when dealing with vaccines.

Alessia Melegaro (Bocconi University, Milan) talks about using mathematics to evaluate the economic aspects related to infectious diseases outbreaks.

Alessandro Vespignani (Northeastern University, USA) explains why mathematical models must take social factors into account, in order to properly represent the evolution of the system.

MMLAP and other EU Projects

Health system analysis to support capacity development in response to the threat of pandemic influenza in Asia
Making society an active participant in water adaptation to global change
Public Participation in Developing a Common Framework for Assessment and Management of Sustainable Innovation
Engaging all of Europe in shaping a desirable and sustainable future
Expect the unexpected and know how to respond
Driving innovation in crisis management for European resilience
Effective communication in outbreak management: development of an evidence-based tool for Europe
Solutions to improve CBRNe resilience
Network for Communicable Disease Control in Southern Europe and Mediterranean Countries
Developing the framework for an epidemic forecast infrastructure
Strengthening of the national surveillance system for communicable diseases
Surveillance of vaccine preventable hepatitis
European monitoring of excess mortality for public health action
European network for highly infectious disease
Dedicated surveillance network for surveillance and control of vaccine preventable diseases in the EU
Modelling the spread of pandemic influenza and strategies for its containment and mitigation
Cost-effectiveness assessment of european influenza human pandemic alert and response strategies
Bridging the gap between science, stakeholders and policy makers
Promotion of immunization for health professionals in Europe
Towards inclusive research programming for sustainable food innovations
Addressing chronic diseases and healthy ageing across the life cycle
Medical ecosystem – personalized event-based surveillance
Studying the many and varied economic, social, legal and ethical aspects of the recent developments on the Internet, and their consequences for the individual and society at large
Get involved in the responsible marine research and innovation
Knowledge-based policy-making on issues involving science, technology and innovation, mainly based upon the practices in Parliamentary Technology Assessment
Assessment of the current pandemic preparedness and response tools, systems and practice at national, EU and global level in priority areas
Analysis of innovative public engagement tools and instruments for dynamic governance in the field of Science in Society
Public Engagement with Research And Research Engagement with Society
Computing Veracity – the Fourth Challenge of Big Data
Providing infrastructure, co-ordination and integration of existing clinical research networks on epidemics and pandemics
Promote vaccinations among migrant population in Europe
Creating mechanisms for effectively tackling the scientific and technology related challenges faced by society
Improve the quality of indoor air, keeping it free from radon
Improving respect of ethics principles and laws in research and innovation, in line with the evolution of technologies and societal concerns
Investigating how cities in the West securitise against global pandemics
Creating a structured dialogue and mutual learning with citizens and urban actors by setting up National Networks in 10 countries across Europe
Identifying how children can be change agents in the Science and Society relationship
Establishing an open dialogue between stakeholders concerning synthetic biology’s potential benefits and risks
Transparent communication in Epidemics: Learning Lessons from experience, delivering effective Messages, providing Evidence