Northeastern University Receives $17.5 Million CDC Grant

( – Nationwide, Americans continue suffering the aftereffects of the recent pandemic. The nation’s economy remains in tatters; workers continue facing hardships associated with their return to workplace employment, and young children, deprived of contact during their informative years, grapple with learning social skills. However, the future looks a bit brighter after Boston’s Northeastern University (NU) received a $17.5 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Typically, when people think about the CDC, they forget the final portion of its official name: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s precisely what the federal health agency plans to do with a new grant.

On September 19, Northeastern Global News, the university’s official media portal, announced it would receive those CDC funds over five years to establish a cutting-edge innovation center “designed to detect and prepare” the US for future infectious disease outbreaks. The project will place particular emphasis on protecting rural areas.

Alessandro Vespignani, Ph.D., the head of NU’s Network Science Institute, will lead the new project called the EPISTORM: The Center for Advanced Epidemic Analytics and Predictive Modeling Technology.

The noted Italian-American physicist pointed out the urgency for a predictive center, noting that the last pandemic caught everyone “off guard,” including medical experts. Stressing that the country didn’t want to face a repeat of that situation, Vespignani likened the new center to a national weather service system for “epidemics and epidemic threats.”

Vespignani explained that if his team can sound the alarm bells even a week or two before the spread of an infectious disease outbreak, it could give hospitals much-needed time to prepare. He pointed out that if they can make room for additional beds in their intensive care units and emergency rooms, “that could make a difference.”

The new EPISTORM center will lead a consortium of private companies, healthcare systems, research institutions, and several other universities to accomplish its goals. It will use emerging technology like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other predictive analytic systems to detect future outbreaks.

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