Fondazione Bruno Kessler - Centro per le Tecnologie dell’informazione (FBK-CIT)


WP 5 (Dynamic models and control)

Fondazione Bruno Kessler is a private non-profit research center working for the public interest. Established by the government of Autonomous Province of Trento (Italy), FBK conducts research in the areas of Information Technology, Materials and Microsystems, Mathematics, Italo- Germanic Historical Studies and Religious Sciences. Other FBK activities include studies on networking and telecommunications, with a particular focus on government and welfare, as well as studies on the effectiveness of public policies.

Connection with the internal research programmes and strategies

The FBK Unit in charge of the proposed research activities is the MPBA unit of the Center for Information Technology of FBK. Within the Center for Information Technology, a new Joint Research Projects will start in 2013, namely the Dynamical Processes in Complex Societies (DPCS) project, led by Stefano Merler.

The new project will involve researchers of the MPBA research unit currently involved in the study of epidemic processes. DPCS proposes to develop a general framework supporting the analysis of dynamical processes in complex societies, accounting for social, spatial and behavioral heterogeneity. Specifically, DPCS proposes to develop a virtual society where agents, their individual behavior and their interactions are modeled on a solid statistical ground, making use of realistic social, demographic, mobility data. Activities of the LExEM project are central within the DPCS project.

Description of the research group working on the project

Stefano MerlerThe FBK research unit participating to this project, the Predictive Models for Biomedicine and Environment (MPBA), gather an extensive range of scientific expertise in computational modelling of infectious diseases and epidemiology. The staff of the MPBA unit currently involved in the study of epidemic processes is composed by 1 senior researcher (Stefano Merler), 4 PostDoc (Marco Ajelli, Piero Poletti, Laura Fumanelli and Giorgio Guzzetta) e 2 PhD students. The staff in the unit has applied these skills in the large scale simulation of emerging diseases, in the study of the role of population heterogeneity and human mobility as factors affecting the spread of epidemics, in the study of the effects of risk perception and spontaneous behavioural changes, the analysis of contact patterns relevant to epidemic transmission. The MPBA unit is one of the world leader groups in the development of individual based models of the spatiotemporal spread of infectious diseases for the assessment of intervention options for mitigation and containment.

The MPBA unit collaborates with the Istituto Superiore di Sanita` (ISS), with the world leading center for research on the epidemiological analysis and modeling of infectious disease outbreaks (MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling - Imperial College – led by Prof. Neil Ferguson) and with the ”Laboratory for the Modeling of Biological and Socio-Technical Systems” – Northeastern University, led by Alessandro Vespignani

Moreover, the MPBA unit collaborates with University of Pisa and Bocconi University on the study of the effects of demographic changes on the epidemiology of infectious diseases in developing countries (ERC DECIDE project; Stefano Merler is senior advisor of the project).

The Unit has been involved in the analysis of the 2007 chikungunya outbreak in Italy, by providing estimates of the transmission potential of Chikungunya virus and insight into control measures.