Essential Pittsburgh
2:10 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Accessing 125 Years of Contagious Disease Research

Project Tycho collects and digitalizes information about contagious disease and releases it in an accessible format.
Credit Houston Museum of Natural Science / flickr.com

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have collected and digitized all weekly surveillance reports for reportable diseases in the United States going back more than 125 years.

The design, called Project Tycho, is led by researchers Drs. Donald Burke and Willem van Panhuis. They say this access to this data can be vital to preventing and treating contagious diseases.

Dr. Burke, Dean of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health says the data has always been available, but not so easy to access.

“When we look at infectious disease data, we’re not just looking at the case counts, we’re looking for patterns. We’re trying to decide how the disease spreads. Can we predict when the epidemic will peak? Where will it go next? And by having this historical data, it lets us be much better at this modeling for decision support...Having the data allows you to have evidence, have a sensible approach, a science-based approach to disease control.”