Bio-surveillance panel addresses aspects of disease awareness

National experts on bio-surveillance and disease awareness gathered on Feb. 17 for the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting in Chicago to learn about biological, physical and information sciences.

The annual symposium, titled "Bio-Surveillance: The Interface of Biological, Physical, and Information Sciences," featured talks by Jason Paragas of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Alina Deshpande of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Chris Dye of the World Health Organizations, David Walk of Tufts University and Malik Peiris of the University of Hong Kong.

Topics of discussion included U.S. and international disease surveillance, predictive and epidemiological modeling, data integration and analysis, the innovation and discovery needed to capture early warning signs and guide public health decisions and challenges of improved diagnostics.

"It is absolutely essential that nations are able to quickly detect and characterize a biological threat affecting human, animal or agricultural health," AAAS Meeting Organizer Basil Swanson said. "Thus the need to gather these internationally recognized specialists and explore potential pathways for scientific advancement. Detection and characterization enables lives to be saved and offers improved outcomes in various scenarios such as the purposeful release of a bio-threat agent, an emerging infectious disease outbreak, pandemic, environmental disaster, or food-borne illness."

Since July 2012, the U.S. has worked to identify and understand biological threats of disease and pathogens, as well as integrate bio-surveillance. Bio-surveillance seeks to collect and analyze of data from many sources and relay that data to aid timely decisions.