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Clemson University researchers receive $17.5 million from CDC to strengthen outbreak detection and response


Courtesy of Upstate Biz

Researchers in the Clemson University Department of Public Health Sciences have received $17.5 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to inform and improve outbreak detection and response in South Carolina and beyond.

The Disease Modeling and Analytics to Inform Outbreak Preparedness, Response, Intervention, Mitigation and Elimination in South Carolina (DMA-PRIME) initiative will utilize data-driven approaches to conduct infectious disease forecasting, design decision-support toolkits and enhance methods of communication to public health organizations and decision makers.

Specifically, DMA-PRIME will develop and implement innovative early warning systems to identify and predict the severity of disease outbreaks and allow health care providers to quickly prioritize emergency response efforts.

The initiative, led by Lior Rennert, associate professor in the public health sciences department and director of the Center for Public Health Modeling and Response, will work in close collaboration with Clemson Rural Health, Prisma Health, University of South Carolina and the Medical University of South Carolina. Additional partners include the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) and the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD).

“Clemson University is a national leader in public health preparedness and community engagement,” said University President Jim Clements. “As a land-grant institution, our mission is deeply connected to the health and well-being of our communities. We are proud that the CDC has awarded Clemson a $17.5 million grant to continue building on our current public health frameworks and partnerships. Through the DMA-PRIME initiative, led by Dr. Lior Rennert, we will continue to strengthen our communication and preparedness systems and elevate the lives of people in South Carolina and beyond.”

“The goals of DMA-PRIME are ambitious but feasible as we build upon analytic frameworks and public health partnerships cultivated during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rennert. “This support from the CDC allows us to elevate our research and broaden the scope of public health preparedness and response across South Carolina.”

Over the course of the five-year grant, the initiative will integrate innovative analytic approaches to inform and improve preparedness, response, intervention, mitigation and elimination of infectious disease outbreaks. Rennert said a key part of this effort is identifying specific areas to focus resources and communities in need of additional support during public health emergencies.

“Dr. Rennert played a vital role in South Carolina’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Leslie Hossfeld, dean of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences. “With CDC support, this initiative will continue to inform policy, transform the public health landscape and fulfill our mission as a College to build healthy people and communities nationwide.”

DMA-PRIME is one of 13 initiatives at partner institutions funded by the CDC to work alongside its Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics (CFA) to establish the Outbreak Analytics and Disease Modeling Network (OADN).

Grantees will support the network in one of three areas: innovation, integration and implementation. As a CDC-designated Center of Integration of Outbreak Analytics and Disease Modeling into Practice, DMA-PRIME will develop and implement promising approaches for outbreak detection and forecasting and conduct pilot tests at the state and local level to gauge the success of the techniques in real-world settings.

“Each of the grantees will help us move the nation forward in our efforts to better prepare and respond to infectious disease outbreaks that threaten our families and our communities,” said Dylan George, director of the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics. “We are committed to working alongside these outstanding partners to achieve our goal of using data and advanced analytics to support decision makers at every level of government.”

About The College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences (CBSHS)

The College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences (CBSHS) was established in July 2016, CBSHS is a 21st-century, land-grant college that combines work in seven disciplines – communication; nursing; parks, recreation and tourism management; political science; psychology; public health sciences; sociology, anthropology and criminal justice – to further its mission of “building people and communities” in South Carolina and beyond.

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Tamia Sumpter

Tamia is a driven senior undergraduate Bioengineering student currently enrolled at Clemson University. With a strong foundation in her field, she has honed her skills through hands-on experience in research and development at Eli Lilly & Company. During her time in the ADME department, Tamia contributed significantly by working on siRNAs and their applications in finding In Vitro-In Vivo Correlation (IVIVC). Looking ahead, Tamia has set her sights on a promising career in law. She aspires to specialize in Intellectual Property Law, with a particular focus on serving as in-house counsel for leading medical device or pharmaceutical companies. Her enthusiasm for this role is palpable as she prepares to embark on her legal journey! She is also a proud member of the Omicron Phi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., PEER Mentor for Clemson PEER/WiSE, and currently serves as the President of Clemson Bioengineering Organization (CBO). With her unique blend of scientific knowledge and legal interests, Tamia is poised to make a meaningful impact in the healthcare and life sciences industries.