Directors Seminar:Professor Philippa Pattison explains how maths meets science in network modelling

Burnet Institute

25 October, 2011

In a novel meeting of ‘maths meets science’, researchers are being encouraged to consider using network modelling to help better understand and measure how a person’s social connections impacts on their risk of disease, chances of

A quantitative psychologist and recently appointed member of the Burnet Board, Professor Pattison presented ‘Understanding the role of social networks in health: a modelling approach’ at this month’s Director’s Seminar.

One of the issues raised by Professor Pattison was how do you use partial network data obtained from contact tracing and related sampling schemes to build empirically grounded, community-level simulation models for networks and network-mediated social processes?

Professor Pattison described how the collection of empirical data - that is directly asking someone what activities they undertook with their friends, then asking those friends to describe further what activities they undertook with their friends - can be used to build up a network or web of information.

This information can be used to develop a network model that helps explain disease transmission or social processes such as access to employment.

In the audience was Professor Robert Power from Burnet’s Centre for Population Health.

“Amongst Professor Pattison’s key messages was the potential value of using a network modelling approach for many of our key areas of research interest,” he said.

“Associate Professor Margaret Hellard here at Burnet is already involved in modelling the transmission of hepatitis C among injecting drug users.

“But, this presentation prompted a discussion about how we can further explore the broad possibilities that network modelling offers in our research and public health work both in Australia and domestically.”

Network modelling offers researchers another effective approach to analysing data or complex patterns of transmission of infectious diseases.

Using this approach may lead to a better understanding of the current patterns of disease transmission in the community which in turn will assist in the development of effective and targeted health interventions.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Brendan Crabb AC

Director and CEO; Co-Head Malaria Research Laboratory; Chair, Victorian Chapter of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI)




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