Forecasting infectious diseases: Improved prediction could transform treatment

By applying the same predictive strategies used in weather forecasting, Penn State’s Steven Schiff is changing the way we approach treatment of infectious diseases worldwide.

“The goal is to learn in order to predict,” said Steven Schiff, a pediatric neurosurgeon and Penn State faculty member. “We want to get to a point where physicians who are treating infected patients can ask ‘Where are you from?’ and in the case of infants, ‘When did the baby get sick?’ With those two bits of information and using surveillance modeling, we can then guide point-of-care treatments in real time.” Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Infectious disease is a leading cause of death worldwide, especially among children, according to the World Health Organization. Children in developing nations are particularly vulnerable, and while substantial progress has been made in reducing the childhood mortality rate, disparities still exist across regions, countries and socioeconomic statuses.

As a pediatric neurosurgeon, Penn State’s Steven Schiff has dedicated a significant portion of his career to the study and treatment of infectious disease, particularly brain diseases in children. Now, Dr. Schiff aims to apply innovative prediction models, similar to those used in forecasting the weather, in order to provide improved personalized treatment to patients battling infectious disease. Ultimately, the same strategies can be used for targeted prevention strategies for such infections.

READ MORE about how Schiff is applying predictive modeling to change the way infectious diseases are treated at 

Last Updated July 11, 2019