SHP faculty to Teach Students How To Build COVID-19 Mathematical Projection Models for Policymakers

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Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert (right) talks to a student after one of his health policy classes. (Photo: Rod Searcey)
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Rod Searcey

As the deaths and detected cases from the COVID-19 epidemic continue to rise globally, government planners and policymakers require projections of its future course and impacts. They also need to understand how potential interventions might “flatten the curve.”

“It’s important to understand these overall effects by geographic area, demographic group, and for special populations like health-care workers,” says Stanford Health Policy’s Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert, who will be teaching a new class in the spring on infectious disease modeling with Stanford Medicine’s Jason Andrews. “Doing this requires mathematical models that incorporate the best available clinical, epidemiological, and policy data along with their associated uncertainties — the state-of-the-art of infectious disease modeling.”

Goldhaber-Fiebert and Andrews will debut the new course, Models for Understanding and Controlling Global Infectious Diseases (HUMBIO 154D for undergrads and HRP204 for graduate students) in the upcoming spring quarter. Stanford Provost Persis Drell announced last week that all spring courses at the university will now be taught online and pushed the start of the new quarter April 6.

Andrews is an infectious disease physician and assistant professor of medicine and Goldhaber-Fiebert, an associate professor of medicine, is a decision scientist.

The class will enable students to become critical consumers of studies using infectious disease modeling and to learn the building blocks for constructing infectious disease models themselves.

Despite the course being new and listed in the middle of winter quarter, they have seen enrollment rise from eight — prior to the rise of COVID-19 in the U.S. and its direct impacts on Stanford’s operations — to nearly 30 students as of March 22.

“Together Jason and I are leading one of several efforts on COVID-19 modeling here in Stanford,” said Goldhaber-Fiebert. “And we anticipate that the course will increase the number of Stanford students with the necessary skills to contribute to Stanford’s leadership in this area.”