School of Public Health


EPI 554 Introduction To Epidemic Modeling For Infectious Diseases (3)

Covers the basic tools for building and analyzing mathematical models of infectious disease epidemics. Model types include deterministic and stochastic models, compartmental and individual-based models. Laboratory provides hands-on model building experience in Excel, Stella, and R.

Autumn 2020

Line Number Section ID Credits Days/Times Room/Bldg Instructor
14933A3.0Tuesday @ 9:00am - 11:50amN/ARuanne V Barnabas
For a complete listing of Epidemiology courses, their elective categories, and when they are typically offered, please see the Epidemiology Course Planning Sheet

Additional Course Details

This course is designed to provide students with the basic tools for building and analyzing mathematical models of disease epidemics. Dynamical systems, such as those that represent infectious disease transmission dynamics, are fundamentally different than traditional statistical models, and this course will provide insight into the fun, complex, and sometimes unexpected world of modeling these systems. This course seeks to prepare public health graduate students to build and analyze the mathematical models of disease that they will encounter in the scientific literature and use in their work as public health professionals. We will use Excel and Stella, a user-friendly modeling package, to run simple disease models. The hands-on lab experience will demystify mathematical modeling and lead to a clear understanding of the various types, characteristics, and qualities of models.    

Topics Covered

  • Model design
  • Compartmental models
  • Parameterizing models
  • Validating models
  • Contact patterns
  • Age-structure    

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the philosophy of model-building and the relationships between modeling and other forms of scientific inquiry
  • Identify research questions that can be addressed with epidemic modeling methods
  • Discuss the role of epidemic modeling in public health policy and resource allocation
  • Interpret and critique mathematical models published in the scientific literature
  • Demonstrate proficient use of Excel, and Stella for building simple disease models

Course Format

Course time will be a mixture of lecture, seminar-style discussion of readings, in which we dissect a series of modeling papers, and time in the computer lab where you will recreate, manipulate, build your own mathematical models.    

How You Will Be Evaluated

Your grade is broken down as follows:

Class Participation: 15%
Journal Club Leadership and Participation: 20%
Lab Assignments: 25% 
Final paper/project: 40%    

Contact the Instructor

Ruanne Barnabas (