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Marisa Eisenberg : Forecasting and uncertainty in modeling disease dynamics

Connecting dynamic models with data to yield predictive results often requires a variety of parameter estimation, identifiability, and uncertainty quantification techniques. These approaches can help to determine what is possible to estimate from a given model and data set, and help guide new data collection. Here, we examine how parameter estimation and disease forecasting are affected when examining disease transmission via multiple types or pathways of transmission. Using examples taken from the West Africa Ebola epidemic, HPV, and cholera, we illustrate some of the potential difficulties in estimating the relative contributions of different transmission pathways, and show how alternative data collection may help resolve this unidentifiability. We also illustrate how even in the presence of large uncertainties in the data and model parameters, it may still be possible to successfully forecast disease dynamics.

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