P2PE: Contagion Science

P2PE: Contagion Science

SIF176A Prominence-to-Preeminence (P2PE) STEM Targeted Initiatives Fund

Contagion Science: An Integrative Science Program in Pandemic Science and Response

Project Managers: Madhav Marathe

Approved: November 2021

Project Dates: 3/01/2022 – 2/28/2027

Total Funding: $5,000,000

Executive Summary

In the past year, the Contagion Science Program (CSP) continued to build and enrich relationships across Grounds by reaching new groups and individuals, deepening existing connections, and forming coalitions to pursue future collaborative funding opportunities. The program hosted workshops and events that sparked re-search conversations among faculty. To increase program engagement CSP partnered with the ECE department on the existing seminar series.

Through its preexisting work relationship with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), CSP members expanded upon and developed tools and analytical capability as part of the Pathogen Genomic Surveillance Center of Excellence (VA PGCoE).

The CSP made significant strides towards long-term program sustainability through applying for external funding. Teams housed under the CSP umbrella submitted research proposals for a total of approximately $52.5 million USD. Through these team efforts, the program brought together researchers from the Schools of Medicine, Computer Science, Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Biocomplexity Institute (BI). External partners included those based in industry and at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Virginia Department of Health, and universities including Stanford, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Washington State, Texas A&M – San Antonio, Virginia Tech, West Virginia University, the University of Maryland-College Park, University of Maryland -Baltimore, the University of Tennessee - Knoxville, and Howard University.

As projected in the previous annual report, CSP successfully recruited three diverse Contagion Science Post-doctoral Associates to support core operations in computational Epidemiology, Network Science, and Computer Science. Based on the experience in CSP, one of our postdoctoral associates was able to move to a position at the CDC starting in April. In addition to rehiring for the postdoctoral role in computational epidemiology, the program aims to hire one additional postdoctoral associate with a background in computational humanities, in-tended to engage more directly with different communities across Grounds.

The faculty hiring process has been reinitiated across Grounds; we expect to make good progress on this front this year. CSP successfully collaborated with the College and Graduate School for Arts and Sciences (A&S) to move Contagion Science faculty hiring forward. A&S is currently finalizing the hiring process. Promising conver-sations with school and department leadership in early 2024 make us optimistic to see swift hiring progress in this academic year.

BI has undergone a significant reorganization, starting January 2024. This process will be complete by April 2024. Nevertheless, the University has strongly supported the continuation of CSP. All the positions within the CSP program have been retained. We thank the University for their continued support in this matter. We hope to resolve one outstanding issue, namely hiring a tenure track faculty member in BI with joint appointment in one of the departments on Grounds.