April 19, 2016
Nicholas Reich, Assistant Professor of Biostatistics, is part of an effort by a group of UMass Amherst researchers to track the Zika virus. The group consisting of students and faculty in the Integrated Concentration in Science (iCons) program, developed new quantitative epidemiological models to predict some consequences of increasing Zika infections, such as microcephaly births, and the potential economic cost to society in South America where the disease is presently spreading. Reich directed the team to a public set of data where researchers worldwide contribute their results, including information on public health.
Reich says the concept of “open science” is proving to be more and more useful as the world is faced with outbreaks like Zika. “There is an increasing understanding and awareness that having public resources like this, when we face such major public health threats is really valuable.” He adds that this is “a big victory for practicality and speed in public health.”