The effectiveness of improved sanitation, antibiotics, and vaccination programs created a confidence in the 1960s that infectious diseases would soon be eliminated. As a result, chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer started to receive more attention in the United States and industrialized countries. But infectious diseases have persisted and have continued to be the major causes of suffering and mortality both in developing and industrialized countries. As the infectious disease agents adapt and evolve, new infectious diseases have emerged (dengue fever in 1945, HIV in 1981, hepatitis C in 1989, hepatitis E in 1990, SARS in 2002, novel H1N1 influenza strain in 2009) and some existing diseases have recently reemerged (Zika). Antibiotic-resistant strains of tuberculosis, pneumonia, and gonorrhea have evolved and are becoming of major concern today in many parts of the world. Malaria, dengue, and yellow fever have reemerged and are spreading into new regions as climate changes occur. Diseases such as plague, cholera, and hemorrhagic fevers (Ebola, Lassa, Marburg, etc.) continue to erupt and occasionally reach dangerous thresholds of global pandemics, with the Ebola outbreak of 2014 originating in West Africa providing a recent example.
This emphasis program will look at problems in modeling micro- and macro- populations in biological studies. From DNA molecules and viruses to humans the collective behavior of individual components gives rise to the overall dynamics of the biological system. The program will explore mathematical, statistical and biological perspectives on analyzing data from such systems and on construction of predictive models of behavior.