Interdisciplinary Seminar Series

Title: Operations Research for Public Health Preparedness

Speaker: Jeffrey Hermann, University of Maryland

Date: Monday, January 30, 2012 11:00am - 12:00pm

Location: DIMACS Center, CoRE Bldg, Room 431, Rutgers University, Busch Campus, Piscataway, NJ


To respond to bioterrorism attacks or curb outbreaks of contagious diseases, local health departments must set up and operate clinics to dispense medications and vaccines. Carefully planning these clinics in advance of such an event is difficult and important. Since 2004 we have been working closely with public health officials in Maryland and around the country to create mathematical and simulation models of mass dispensing and vaccination clinics (also known as points of dispensing or PODs) and to develop decision support tools to help emergency preparedness planners plan clinics that have enough capacity to serve residents quickly while avoiding unnecessary congestion. In the same way that tax preparation software puts an accountant's expertise into the hands of everyone, we wanted to put our operations research modeling skills into the hands of emergency preparedness planners who are working tirelessly to protect our nation. To eliminate the most significant obstacles, we created a spreadsheet application that runs macros to generate customized analytical models without the assistance of an OR professional; thus, users could evaluate a wide variety of plans.

Developing spreadsheets for this type of application differs significantly from end-user modeling and typical spreadsheet applications. Recent work has focused on optimizing the distribution of medication to PODs and evaluating the benefit of predispensing medical countermeasures.

DIMACS/CCICADA Interdisciplinary Series, Complete Spring Calendar 2012