UCI Infectious Disease Science Initiative Newsletter – December 2020

Dear colleagues,

As 2020 comes to a close, we would like to thank you for your support of the UCI Infectious Disease Science Initiative (IDSI) throughout the year. Please see below highlights from the past few months from IDSI and affiliated faculty. Wishing you a safe and restful holidays and a happy new year.


Sanghyuk Shin
Director, Infectious Disease Science Initiative

COVID-19 Dynamics: State of the Science Event Recap

IDSI Public Seminar on COVID-19

On October 6, 2020, IDSI and the UCI Center for Virus Research presented COVID-19 Dynamics: State of the Science, a virtual symposium highlighting the newest advances in knowledge of COVID-19 dynamics. Speakers included IDSI Co-Director Dr. Vladimir Minin and Faculty Advisory Board member Dr. Ilhem Messaoudi. Other distinguished speakers included Drs. Stanley Perlman (University of Iowa), Emmie de Wit (NIAID), Micaela Martinez (Columbia University) and Kristian Andersen (Scripps Research). This timely symposium covered multiple levels of COVID-19 dynamics from host pathogenesis and immunological dynamics to the levels of viral evolution and human populations.

recorded stream screenshot

Request for Proposals – Up to $15,000 in Interdisciplinary Pilot Study Funding on Infectious Disease Dynamics

statistical modeling

As part of IDSI’s mission to stimulate new interdisciplinary research projects of infectious disease dynamics, we are pleased to announce a call for pilot project proposals. Awards will provide up to $15,000 support to interdisciplinary research teams. Interdisciplinary proposals with a clear plan to generate preliminary data to support external funding applications will be prioritized. Applications are due on January 11, 2021Additional information and submission instructions can be found at on our website.

Recent Publications

Spatial Heterogeneity Can Lead to Substantial Local Variations in COVID-19 Timing and Severity
Recently published research in PNAS by Dr. Carter Butts (Department of Sociology)

IDSI Faculty Advisory Member Carter Butts and his team have published a new paper that uses a novel method for incorporating interpersonal contact network data to examine “the effects of an uneven population distribution on the spread of the COVID-19 disease.” Read the article, “Spatial heterogeneity can lead to substantial local variations in COVID-19 timing and severity.”

uneven population

A Modular Microarray Imaging System for Highly Specific COVID-19 Antibody Testing
New paper published in Lab on a Chip by IDSI Faculty Advisory Board member Dr. Philip L. Felgner (School of Medicine) and colleagues

Abstract: To detect the presence of antibodies in blood against SARS-CoV-2 in a highly sensitive and specific manner. Here we describe a robust, inexpensive ($200), 3D-printable portable imaging platform (TinyArray imager) that can be deployed immediately in areas with minimal infrastructure to read coronavirus antigen microarrays (CoVAMs) that contain a panel of antigens from SARS-CoV-2, SARS-1, MERS, and other respiratory viruses. Read the article, “A modular microarray imaging system for highly specific COVID-19 antibody testing.”

microarray imaging

COVID-19 Serology at Population Scale: SARS-CoV-2-specific Antibody Responses in Saliva
New paper by Dr. Douglas Granger (Department of Psychological Science) et al. published in Journal of Clinical Microbiology

Non-invasive SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing is urgently needed to estimate the incidence and prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection at the general population level. Precise knowledge of population immunity could allow government bodies to make informed decisions about how and when to relax stay-at-home directives and to reopen the economy. Read the article.


Using Multiple Data Streams to Estimate and Forecast SARS-CoV-2 Transmission Dynamics, with Application to the Virus Spread in Orange County, California (PrePrint)
Work by IDSI Co-director Vladimir N. Minin (Dept. of Statistics)

Abstract: Near real-time monitoring of outbreak transmission dynamics and evaluation of public health interventions are critical for interrupting the spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and mitigating morbidity and mortality caused by coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Formulating a regional mechanistic model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission dynamics and frequently estimating parameters of this model using streaming surveillance data offers one way to accomplish data-driven decision making. Read the article on the AR XIV website.

multiple data streams

Estimated Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies Among Adults in Orange County, California
Preprint by Drs. Tim Bruckner, Daniel Parker, Andrew Noymer, Matt Zahn and Bernadette Boden-Albala.

Abstract: Clinic-based estimates of SARS-CoV-2 may considerably underestimate the total number of infections. Access to testing in the US has been heterogeneous and symptoms vary widely in infected persons. Public health surveillance efforts and metrics are therefore hampered by underreporting. We set out to provide a minimally biased estimate of SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence among adults for a large and diverse county (Orange County, CA, population 3.2 million). Read the article on the Med RX IV website.