Newsletter: January 2023

Dear AMMnet,

Welcome to the January newsletter! Happy New Year to everyone. We look forward to connecting you to resources and to each other in the coming new year. 

Please contact info@ammnet.org if you would like to contribute any items to next month’s newsletter!

Contents:

  1. Special announcements
  2. Jobs, workshops, conferences, and opportunities
  3. Working group announcements
  4. Board and committee announcements
  5. Monthly seminar recap

  1. Special announcements

Request for proposals for local in-person AMMnet events
We are thrilled to announce the first open funding opportunity for AMMnet members. AMMnet would like to encourage the growth of regional AMMnet chapters and is looking to support small regional in-person AMMnet events such as meetings, conferences, or workshops. AMMnet will fund up to 10 regional events annually, each with a budget range of $500 to $3,000. 

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. More information and application instructions are available here: English, French, Portuguese.

Join us on February 7 for the next seminar! 
We will have a special seminar on February 7, where a few of our members will lead a series of short talks. Our speakers will share insights around capacity building and malaria research. Look for more details to come via email!

Ezra Gayawan is our featured “meet the modeler” guest speaker. He is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Statistics, Federal University of Technology, Akure.

The seminar is scheduled for February 7, 3pm / 15:00 GMT / UTC, on Zoom. Members will receive a calendar invitation, but please reach out to info@ammnet.org if you need a link.

Join the AMMnet Slack workspace
If you haven’t joined the AMMnet slack workspace, join here! Many announcements, including job opportunities and upcoming events, are posted first on the Slack. This is also a great place to connect directly with other modelers!

  1. Jobs, workshops, conferences, and opportunities

Jobs

Infectious Disease Modeler open position at Swiss TPH 
The position consists in developing and applying models to provide support to National Malaria Control Programs in African countries and more. The team focuses on developing and applying analytical solutions to support evidence-based decision making processes in malaria endemic countries. Country-specific analyses of malaria data and simulations of malaria dynamics and intervention impact are used to understand and represent malaria situations in countries in order to provide evidence required by the National Malaria Control Programs. This is an exciting opportunity for those who want to combine their analytical skills, leadership and country experience, while making a direct impact.

Anyone interested should have a look at the job description and apply online here if further interested. The position will be open until 31st January 2023.

Have a look at the SwissTPH website here if you’d like to explore other open positions.

Postdoc positions open with Northwestern University modeling group
We are seeking up to 2 postdocs to work on projects related to: 

1) within-host model development and 
2) malaria epidemiology and intervention policy

If interested, please send cover letter and CV to malariamodeling@northwestern.edu.

Workshops and Conferences

AMMnet Repository for Modeling Workshops
AMMnet is planning to host a repository of past modeling workshops. If you would like more information or you have materials to contribute (such as syllabi or other materials), please reach out to info@ammnet.org

The Royal Society Scientific Meetings in London, UK
13 – 14 March 2023
Forecasting natural and social systems

This meeting will feature talks from researchers who build models to forecast different systems such as elections, wildfires, world affairs, outbreaks, climate, economics and demographic trends.

15 – 16 March 2023
Forecasting infectious disease incidence for public health

This meeting will focus on the latest developments in forecasting research as related to infectious disease and identify cross-cutting areas and synergies with other fields.

There will be a forthcoming call for a contributed poster session (open topic) as well as a contributed oral session on software and tools.

Meeting organizers: Sebastian Funk, Rachel Lowe, Nicholas Reich, Steven Riley

To register for one or both of the meetings, please follow the links above. Registration for both meetings is free. Note that space at the second meeting is very limited and to register for the second meeting only you must “request an invitation”. If more people request to attend than can be accommodated, conference organizers will select participants based on the relevance of an individual’s ongoing or past work to the area of infectious disease forecasting, while also striving to maintain a diverse balance of attendees.

MIDAS Webinar Series: Deep Uncertainty 101 for Infectious Disease Modelers: What it is, why you should care, and what we can do about it.
Friday, January 27, 12:00 – 1:00pm Eastern Standard Time

Speaker: Dr. Pedro Nascimento de Lima, RAND Corporation

Researchers from fields plagued by deep uncertainty have proposed several decision-analytic approaches, collectively known as Decision Making Under Deep Uncertainty (DMDU) methods. This talk offers a brief introduction to this field for infectious disease modelers and an invitation for modelers to engage with DMDU ideas.

Select the link here to register.

2023 SEAMS Workshop
The International Clinics on Infectious Disease Dynamics and Data (ICI3D) Program invites applications for the Software Engineering for Applied Mathematical Sciences Workshop (SEAMS), which will be held at Stellenbosch University (Stellenbosch, South Africa) 27 February – 10 March 2023. For details, navigate to the website here and here.

To participate, you must have a scientific programming project to which you have made significant contributions and which you will work on from an engineering perspective during the course.

Please use this form to submit the required application materials before the extended deadline of 31 January.

Courses

2023 faculty enrichment program in applied malaria modeling at Northwestern
Northwestern University’s malaria modeling team is offering an 18-week intensive in-person training program in applied malaria modeling for Sub-Saharan African mathematical modeling faculty. Training is focused on applied modeling with EMOD, an open-source malaria transmission modeling software that is currently used to support malaria programs. Participants will design their own research question and focal training project using EMOD that will form the basis of a Specific Aims page (grant proposal summary page) to be developed during the program. More information is available here: English, French. To apply, please send CV and statement of interest to malariamodeling@northwestern.edu by January 31, 2023.

Field Malaria Courses in Tanzania and in Lao PDR: Four-Week Postgraduate Courses on Malaria Prevention, Control & Elimination.
Co-organised by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Switzerland, the Ifakara Health Institute and the Zanzibar Malaria Elimination Programme, Tanzania. 

Target Group: Only applicants from African malaria affected-countries will be considered who are Health Personnel, Scientists and Researchers, Public Health Specialists and Malaria Control Administrators.

Mode and place of delivery: 4-week, full-time course held in Bagamoyo (3 weeks) and Zanzibar (1 week), Tanzania

Application opens: 13 January 2023

Application Deadline: 28 February 2023

Find more information here.

Grant Opportunities

The Vaccine Impact Modelling Consortium (VIMC) has opened a new Request for Proposals (RfP) for:

  • Groups with disease-specific models of vaccine impact for malaria, COVID-19, meningitis A / multivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MMCV), hepatitis B
  • Other cross-cutting groups that will add value to the Consortium, e.g. focusing on operational aspects, health economics, impact of climate on disease dynamics and geospatial aspects

Successful models will be invited to join the Consortium as full members and will receive core-funding of up to USD $73,000 or GBP £60,000 per year.

Applicants must be based in a university or other academic/research institution. Prior modelling experience is essential, and models must already be developed and in use. For some categories, applications are restricted to LMIC-based groups, with priority given to specific countries/regions. 

Application documents are due by 31 January 2023. For more information and details, please visit the link here.  

  1. Working group announcements

The Chemoprevention working group will kick off in the next few months! Please join the #chemoprevention channel on the AMMnet slack to participate. All with interest in chemoprevention are welcome!

  1. Board and committee announcements

AMMnet board
The board met for a special meeting on January 13 and a regular meeting on January 17. 

January 13 meeting
Present: Tatiana Alonso Amor, Caitlin Bever, Luc Djogbenou, Jaline Gerardin, Justin Millar, Emilie Pothin, Manuela Runge, Hannah Slater (first half), Shannon Stanfill 

Absent: Emmanuel Bakare, Ousmane Diallo

The board approved updated Mission and Vision statements (now on website). The board also discussed and approved a preliminary outline of roles and operations of Objectives Committees, Task Forces, and Subgroups in preparation for drafting the AMMnet Terms of Reference. 

January 17 meeting
Present: Tatiana Alonso Amor, Caitlin Bever, Luc Djogbenou, Cherlynn Dumbura, Jaline Gerardin, Justin Millar, Emilie Pothin, Manuela Runge, Hannah Slater, Shannon Stanfill 

Absent: Emmanuel Bakare, Ousmane Diallo

Agenda:

  • 2023 Budget: Reviewed budget items
    • Available funds by project year: total grant and current spending/ encumbered
    • Will get clarity regarding foundation coverage of two in-person events
    • Added a line for budgeting task force activities
    • As ToR are developed, guide for adding activities to budget will be outlined
    • Activities can be added to the budget as we discuss further
    • If a group/individual would like to apply for a grant externally on behalf of AMMnet, this could be done via a task force (if in the purview/within the mission of AMMnet)
    • Board voting for approval to spend funds:
      • VOTE 1: Translation-Interpreter – 100% Yea
      • VOTE 2: Slack Pro Plan discounted membership – 100% Yea
      • Consider YouTube platform to upload seminar recordings, seminar committee to discuss; maximize investment in interpretation service
  • Regional AMMnet events
    • 2 regional AMMnets have expressed interest in holding in-person meetings: Ghana and Nigeria
      • AMMnet Ghana proposal (not received yet)
      • AMMnet Nigeria proposal, World Malaria Day event
    • PROPOSAL for how to handle these:
      • Issue an RFP (request for proposals) to invite more people to apply
        • RFP will be for amounts $500-$3000
        • We will have flexibility to fund many, perhaps up to 10 per year
        • RFP to be issued as soon as possible
        • Whether a rolling deadline or fixed every 4-6 months to be decided by task force
        • Aim to review within 2 weeks
        • Review panel = 2-3 board members
        • Defined scoring rubric that review panel will agree on
        • RFP will clearly lay out objectives and requirements
      • Treat these 2 proposals as if they had applied to the RFP (also give opportunity for revision after they see the RFP text)
    • Board voting for approval on RFP + funding process
      • VOTE 3: We will issue an RFP for small regional AMMnet events – 100% Yea
      • VOTE 4: RFP finalization, proposal review, and decisions will be made by task force of 2-3 board members (nominate and select) to serve for 2023 – 100% Yea
  • Committee updates, if any
    • Membership:
      • 293 members
    • Seminars:
      • Upcoming meetings:
        • February 7
        • March 7
        • Possible: chemoprevention showcase
      • Seminar back-up plan
    • Workshops-Special Events:
      • Geospatial Workshop tentatively scheduled for February 14, 15 or 16
      • Elimination Workshop tentatively scheduled for February 28
      • Panel on running workshops—TBD
    • Social:
      • Tatiana’s transition plan – Next Steps (no vote yet)
        • Tatiana to discuss the interim chair role with another colleague to consider filling in the interim. 
        • Duration of Interim: From now to June. 
        • Emilie will proactively approach her team to see if anyone is interested.
        • Cherlynn to discuss chair role with Tatiana and Shannon to gauge interest.
    • Training:
      • Evaluating member needs
        • Survey development
      • Setting up a resource center
        • Evaluating what is offered vs. what is needed
        • Gathering materials
    • Values:
      • French version of “working with NMCPs” values & guidance document now up on website
    • Data:
      • In process and looking for committee volunteers
        • WMR data prep for R: Consider hack-a-thon
        • Technical blog
    • Francophone:
      • No updates this month
  1. Monthly seminar recap

Shufang Zhang and Mehran Hosseini shared their insights on the role of modelling at The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (GF). During this presentation, the speakers explained that for all modelling work at GF there is currently a modelling governance whereby the GF works closely with modelling groups to identify relevant questions and seeks advice from the modelers in terms of relevance of the methodologies and validity of the results. 

Mehran talked about the portfolio level modelling. This portfolio approach is a desk exercise that does not necessarily involve the countries. Frequently the models used for the portfolio level approach are the same as the ones that WHO or UNAIDS use to generate their global plans or global strategies. Several examples of the portfolio approach were mentioned by Mehran such as the investment cases or the GF replenishments. Another example mentioned was the evaluation of the impact that the GF 2023-2028 strategy could achieve in terms of lives saved given the funding available. It was also noted that some considerations and limitations are important to take into account to interpret the results of such an evaluation; for instance, these type of projections are produced assuming that the money is optimally used. 

Regarding the country level approach, Shufang highlighted how critical the modelling has become along the entire grant cycle, not only during the funding request but also during the grant making process and implementation of the grant. As a result, an increasing number of countries are interested in using modelling to generate evidence for their decision making process. Among the key criteria considered in the GF applications is the “value for money” which seeks to maximize and sustain equitable and quality health outputs, outcome and impact for a given level of resources. Furthermore, one of the dimensions that is becoming essential under the new GF strategy is the integration of “equity” when evaluating the optimal intervention mix for a given country to make sure that equitable health outcomes are achieved. Building on the previous experience during the 2020-2022 grant cycle, some of the lessons learned were the improved use of data to guide the choice of interventions under the High Burden to High Impact (HBHI) initiative and the need to generate additional evidence to better prioritize those interventions.

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