Colorado State University alumnus Dylan George, leader of a national disease forecasting center in the federal government, will visit the Fort Collins campus on Oct. 19 to explain new approaches to respond to disease outbreaks.
George is the director of operations for the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics (CFA), a new center at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The group focuses on using big data and analytical models to improve response to infectious diseases. The new center is akin to a National Weather Service for infectious disease outbreaks in the United States.
“From the very beginning of CFA, we’ve supported outbreak responses across the U.S., including polio, COVID-19 and monkeypox, to successfully forecast the impact of these diseases within our communities,” George said. “We believe that the right data, at the right time, in the right hands can be transformative in our ability to prevent infections and save lives across the nation. Our goal at CFA is to obtain quality, real-time data that we can rapidly analyze and share with leaders at the local, state and federal levels so they can make informed decisions when responding to disease threats.”
George said CFA partnered with Kaiser Permanente Southern California and UC Berkeley to produce the first U.S. estimates of Omicron severity compared to the Delta variant. From there, the team notified federal leaders, state and local public health partners and the public that an impending increase in cases and hospitalizations would be severe enough to disrupt the infrastructure, which allowed leaders several weeks of notice to determine next steps.
Aside from a focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, George said CFA also produced four reports forecasting and analyzing ongoing outbreaks regarding pediatric acute hepatitis and the ongoing monkeypox outbreak.
George’s presentation is scheduled for 4-5 p.m. Oct. 19 at the CSU Stadium Club, 751 W. Pitkin St., Fort Collins. The registration link is found here.
“The pandemic showed us the importance of data-driven decisions in response to public health emergencies and in our own health decisions,” said Alan Rudolph, CSU’s vice president for research. “Dylan George has dedicated his career to the predictive analytics required to make better health decisions and now at the CDC leading national efforts in genomic surveillance and other tools to prevent the next pandemic. We are excited to host him on campus and engage with many of our faculty, students and collaborators.”
Before joining the CDC, George worked in the private sector at Ginkgo Bioworks and In-Q-Tel. He served on the Biden-Harris Transition Team, working on national security policy for the COVID-19 response, and on the agency review team for the Department of Health and Human Services. He served 10 years at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, in the Department of Health and Human Services within the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, at the Department of Defense, and at the National Science Foundation. In these positions, he advanced data and analytical capabilities to help protect Americans from infectious disease threats. George received his doctorate from Colorado State University and focused on quantitative analytical approaches for considering how clinically severe pathogens (e.g., Yersinia pestis, rabies) persist within wildlife populations.
CSU is a national leader in infectious disease research, particularly in the zoonotic disease transmission between animals and humans. During the COVID-19 crisis, the university worked closely with state and local government to protect workers in nursing homes and students on campus, conduct surveillance of disease spread and launch research into developing a new vaccine.