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Dynamic Virtual Protein (DVP)

Working Group leader: Jean-Marc Gauthier

Group members: Jagdish Patel, Julio Gonzalez, Clayton Christensen

Originated: April 2019

Description: This Working Group is part of the U of I’s NSF Track-2 EPSCOR Grant. They hold virtual reality meetings and user evaluation meetings weekly.

The Dynamic Virtual Protein project is an app used to visualize and interact with virtual proteins in virtual reality. The app covers all proteins referenced in the Protein Data Bank with the exception of proteins that contain DNA. The intended audience is for experts and non-experts in a multi-player environment. The team recently won an award for Best Demo at the Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology conference.

The Virtual Protein Builder is a research project focusing on real-time building of primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary structures of proteins. The group is developing an artificial intelligence-based interface for high-school students that follows the requests of the participants in a multi-player environment.

Single Cell Variation in Phenotype (SCWG)

Working Group leader: Andreas Vasdekis

Group members: Daniel Weinreich, Chris Marx, Tanya Miura, Brenda Rubenstein, Shala Nemati, Monica Pedroni, Sergey Stolyar, Akaorde Serki, David Morgan, Maya Weisman

Originated: October, 2019

Description:

SCGW is interested in fusing expertise at UI and Brown towards understanding the response of cell populations with single-cell resolution to stress, as well as the relationship between this form of stress response with evolution.

One of our goals is to generate and submit manuscripts that are related to the GenoPheno EPSCoR project. A second goal pertains to the generation of preliminary data towards submitting future proposals that aim at relating single-cell phenomena with stress response and eventually evolution.

U of I Study: Some Vaccine Doubters Swayed by Outbreaks

This news article was written by Kathy Foss, Marketing and Communications Manager for the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences. Drs. Florian Justwan and Bert Baumgaertner are active CMCI faculty participants and part of the Social-Epi working group.

MOSCOW, Idaho — Aug. 28, 2019 — People skeptical of the medical establishment who live close to a measles outbreak have a greater chance of changing their mind, according to a University of Idaho study.

The study, led by Assistant Professor of Political Science Florian Justwan, found people who are skeptical of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — as well as similar institutions — and live farther away from a disease outbreak harbor less favorable vaccination views than those who are skeptical but live in close proximity to an outbreak. People who have high levels of trust are not affected by disease proximity.

Bert Baumgaertner, an associate professor of philosophy at U of I, Juliet Carlisle, an associate professor of political science at the University of Utah, and former student researchers from U of I’s College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, contributed to the study, published today, Aug. 28, in the journal PLOS One.

“The implication of our study is that some people base their vaccine decision-making to a considerable degree on whether or not a given disease occurs in close vicinity to their community,” Justwan said. “If someone has high confidence in institutions such as the CDC, this person is likely to vaccinate regardless of whether he or she lives close to a recent measles outbreak. Fostering public trust in institutions such as the CDC is an important objective from a public health perspective.”

The researchers found an individual’s proximity to a measles outbreak independently had no effect on measles vaccination attitudes. Research suggests, however, that people who are skeptical of the CDC and similar institutions may consider whether or not a given disease occurs nearby when making decisions about vaccination. About 61 percent of low-trust individuals had a more favorable opinion of vaccines if they lived within 100 miles of an outbreak, That increase in favorability dropped to about 39 percent if a person lived within 500 miles of an outbreak and to 17 percent within 1,000 miles of an outbreak.

Researchers surveyed 1,006 online respondents across the U.S. about their political beliefs, vaccination attitudes and demographics as part of the study. The survey was carried out in January 2017, a year after two highly publicized outbreaks of measles in the U.S. The pool was generated by a market research firm to be a nationally representative sample of the U.S. voting age population and the final sample matched known population factors for gender, age, income race and census region.

A growing vaccine hesitancy in the U.S. and globally can manifest itself in increased non-medical exemption rates, decreased vaccination rates and increased outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, according to the study. The formation of attitudes about vaccination is complex and linked to many factors including media and peer group influence, distrust of science, information access and socio-economic barriers.

The research team, housed in U of I’s Center for Modeling Complex Interactions, is continuing its study into other factors that may influence a person’s decision to vaccinate.

IMCI Postdocs

Working Group leader: JT VanLeuven

Group members: William Wang, Erich Seamon, Li Huang, Mohamed Megheib

Originated: August 2018

Description:

The IMCI postdocs working group brings IMCI core fellows and postdocs together to provide each other a support system that helps peers to navigate the challenges at work. In addition, the working group provides a platform to practice oral presentations, present research updates and discuss networking and career opportunities.