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Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Q. What is the long-term vision of MIDAS?

A. As a collaborative network of scientists, MIDAS leads in researching the use of computational and mathematical models that will prepare the nation to respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases.

Q. Where can I find the report of the working group that led to this initiative?

A. The recommendations from the meeting and roster for the group are posted on the NIGMS Web site, Modeling the Emergence and Intentional Release of Pathogens Meeting Report. The concept was approved by the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council in September 2002 (see Advisory Council Meeting Minutes).

Q. Can individual investigators apply for research project grants (R01) under MIDAS?

A. Yes, please see PA-16-107, Modeling of Infectious Disease Agent Study Research Projects. This funding announcement from NIAID and NIGMS is to support innovative research that will develop and apply computational tools and methods for modeling interactions between infectious agents and their hosts, disease spread, prediction systems and response strategies.

Q. Does MIDAS play a role in planning for a national emergency such as a pandemic or act of bioterrorism?

A. NO, not directly. MIDAS investigators contribute to the understanding of infectious disease agents and their spread. MIDAS assist public health workers in responding to infectious disease outbreaks by working with public health officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services, the World Health Organization, and many state and local health departments. The goal is to use modeling to study how diseases spread, how to detect outbreaks early and how to implement effective interventions.

Research Groups

Q. What research does MIDAS conduct?

A. MIDAS’ research mission includes computational and mathematical investigations of:

  • Dynamics of emergence and spread of pathogens and their products.
  • Identification and surveillance of infectious diseases.
  • Effectiveness and consequences of intervention strategies.
  • Host/pathogen interactions.
  • Ecological, climatic and evolutionary dimensions of infectious diseases outbreaks.

Q. What research groups participate in MIDAS?


  • Don Burke, M.D., University of Pittsburgh
  • Betz Halloran, M.D., D.Sc., The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  • Marc Lipsitch, D.Phil., Harvard School of Public Health


  • Sara Del Valle, Ph.D., Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • John Drake, Ph.D., and Andrew Park, Ph.D., University of Georgia; Matthew Ferrari, Ph.D., Penn State University; Pejman Rohani, Ph.D., and Bogdan Epureanu, Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Joseph S. Eisenberg, Ph.D., University of Michigan
  • Stephen Eubank, Ph.D., Virginia Bioinformatics Institute
  • Neil Morris Ferguson, Ph.D., Chistophe Fraser, Ph.D., and Steven Riley, Ph.D., Imperial College London; Simon Cauchemez, Ph.D., Institut Pasteur, Paris
  • Alison Galvani, Yale University and Lauren Ancel Meyers, University of Texas at Austin
  • Christopher Mores, Sc.D., Louisiana State University
  • Sergei Pond, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego
  • Travis C. Porco, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
  • Jeffrey Shaman, Ph.D., Columbia University

Information Resource

Q. What is MIDAS’ mission for developing resources?

A. MIDAS’ informatics mission includes:

  • Building synthetic populations and maps for detailed modeling studies.
  • Creating a Web-based resource of models, information and knowledge management tools.
  • Testing and validating models.
  • Making useful models publicly available.

Q. What group is managing the information resource?

A. The University of Pittsburgh (Mike Wagner, Ph.D.) has a cooperative agreement to develop MIDAS resources.

Q. Will MIDAS share information and resources outside of the Network?

A. MIDAS has a mission to collaborate by:

  • Catalyzing discussions among modelers, policymakers and the public health community.
  • Taking leadership to ensure that MIDAS software is translated into useful tools.
  • Sharing results and resources with the MIDAS network, policymakers, public health officials and the scientific community.
  • Taking advantage of the intellectual capital within MIDAS to undertake projects that would be impossible for any single group.

Steering Committee

Q. What is the role of the Steering Committee?

A. The Steering Committee is an outside group of experts that:

  • Sets milestones for the MIDAS network.
  • Assesses progress within the MIDAS network.
  • Develops guidelines (e.g., for data sharing and intellectual property).
  • Evaluates and votes on inclusion of associate projects.
  • Contributes to the development of a cohesive effort.

The Steering Committee meets annually.

Executive Committee

Q. Who is on the Executive Committee, and what do they do?

A. The Executive Committee is the governing group of MIDAS and is composed of external advisors. The Executive Committee promotes collaboration and coordination of the MIDAS projects and ensures the high scientific quality and timeliness of MIDAS research. The committee makes decisions about scientific directions, plans meetings, addresses resource and data needs and implements the priorities established by the steering committee.

Q. What, exactly, is the MIDAS network?

A. The MIDAS network consists of all of the principal investigators, scientific collaborators, programmers, data and compute experts and students from the Research Groups and Informatics Group. The network meets frequently to coordinate, plan and share information.


Q. Why are some of these awards cooperative agreements (U01, U54 and U24)?

A. The U mechanism allows NIH staff to contribute to the development of annual benchmarks, policies and approaches. Because the program is highly focused on producing knowledge and products to serve a specific goal, NIH staff members play an integral role.

Intellectual Property

Q. Will MIDAS release data, models and source code?

A. NIH’s policy for releasing data and intellectual property is available from the Office of Extramural Activities Intellectual Property and the NIH Office of Technology Transfer Extramural Programs.

MIDAS’ policy is to release data immediately after publication. Some of the data MIDAS uses is restricted by the provider because of national security or human subjects concerns. MIDAS will not add any additional restrictions. Data sets are available to registered users on the MIDAS Portal.

Results from MIDAS research are available through publication in peer-reviewed journals, presentations at meetings and conferences and on the MIDAS Portal.

Q. Are you concerned about privacy or HIPAA issues?

A. Yes. MIDAS complies with policies of the Federal government, DHHS, NIH and NIGMS regarding human subjects research, privacy protection and HIPAA. These policies are available from the Office of Extramural Research.


Q. How can I find out more about MIDAS?

A. Visit the MIDAS Portal Link to external Web site. You may also contact:

Shelly Pollard
MIDAS Media Liaison, NIGMS

Veerasamy "Ravi" Ravichandran, Ph.D.
MIDAS Scientific Director, NIGMS

This page last reviewed on July 22, 2016