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16 February 2017

ZonMW TOP grant for Vincent Buskens (ICS-UU)

"Harnessing social networks for infectious disease control"

Project leaders: Mirjam Kretzschmar (UMCU) and Vincent Buskens
Budget: €675,000 for two PhDs and one post-doc
Timing: 48 months starting August 1, 2017

Recent outbreaks of infectious diseases such as Ebola in West Africa, Q fever in the Netherlands, Zika Virus in South America, but also the HIV pandemic, SARS, and pandemic influenza have shown that globalized society is at increasing risk of outbreaks of emerging pathogens. In this project we propose to study the interaction between individuals and populations with respect to risk perception, behavior and disease transmission in dynamic contact networks. We propose to use a combination of experimental research, data collection on contact patterns and social networks via respondent driven sampling, and individual based network simulations to study population effects. We pioneer an empirical approach where behavior in small groups of individuals is studied to parameterize dynamic networks, which provide information about global dynamics of contact patterns and disease transmission. We also develop methods for collecting data on human behavior via web-based surveys, contributing to the expanding field of digital epidemiology. Our aim is to gain insight into how contact behavior and risk perception and behavior of individuals determine network structure at the population level and how that network structure and infectious disease transmission influence each other.