DBEI | CCEB  |  Intranet

Our Response to COVID-19

Our Response to COVID-19

Learn With Our Experts

For the Public

AI in the Age of COVID-19

John Holmes, PhD, FACE, FACMI, shows that artificial intelligence methods can enrich epidemiological models, allowing us to better model population and disease dynamics central to developing policies for COVID-19 prevention, detection + treatment. Watch his National Institutes of Health videocast, the inaugural lecture in the new Ada Lovelace Computational Health Lecture Series of the National Library of Medicine.

COVID Data Science

Jeffrey Morris, PhD, offers reporting and balanced evaluation of research results, data sets, applications and models, and commentaries related to Covid-19 and its underlying virus, SARS-Cov-2 on a robust new website.

So You've Socially Distanced; Now What?

Susan Ellenberg, PhD, commented on the timeline for development of treatments and a vaccine, and Michael Levy, PhD, discussed long-term social distancing options as part of the Leonard Davis Institute's first "Experts at Home" virtual seminar.

Discussion of COVID-19 in Latin America Presented by Penn Arts and Sciences

Ricardo Castillo-Neyra, DVM, PhD, discussed COVID-19 in Peru vs. other Latin American countries; his presentation starts at minute 24. (First up on this program by Penn Arts and Science's Latin America and Latino Studies Program is Dan Erikson of the Penn Biden Center.) See highlights and featured links from the presentation (on DBEI Twitter).

Updates on the Epidemiology of COVID-19 From a European Hotspot

Italy's epidemic is two-to-three weeks ahead of our situation in the U.S.  John Holmes, PhD, FACE, FACMI, a visiting professor in Lombardy, Italy, comments.

April 16 session: View a recording of the session. View Dr. Holmes's slides from the session.

March 19 session: View Dr. Holmes's slides from the sessionDr Holmes elaborates (on DBEI Twitter): How can we judge epidemic curves accurately, since we can’t distinguish a higher rate of new cases from a higher rate of testing? Summary of the session by Penn Today

Coronovirus Symposium Presented by the Penn Center for Research on Coronavirus and Other Emerging Pathogens

Session on the epidemiology of SARS-CoV2 with Michael Levy, PhD

View all sessions with various Penn Medicine experts

For the Penn Community (PennKey log-in required)

DBEI & CCEB COVID-19 Population Sciences Journal Club

Clinical studies on coronavirus are coming at a furious pace and garnering media attention, but not being critically reviewed. The Journal Club, created by the DBEI and the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, applies rigorous scientific methods to evaluate research studies that can inform best practices, policies and further studies. We critically review relevant literature, identify new questions, and explore opportunities to provide answers.

Join the September 30, 9 a.m. discussion: Penn Medicine community invited. Discussion of "Cell Phone Activity in Categories of Places and Associations with Growth in Cases of COVID-19 in the US" with Michael George, MD, MSCE, and biostatistics PhD student Joanna Harton. Read the article in JAMA Network.

Connect to the full session from a computer or mobile device.  
Or connect for audio only: 1.866.226.4650 Meeting ID:  239450016

September 23: Discussion of "Assessment of SARS-CoV-2 Screening Strategies to Permit the Safe Reopening of College Campuses in the United States" with Ricardo Castillo-Neyra, PhD, DVM, MSPH, and Nicholas Illenberger, PhD candidate in biostatistics. Read the paper in JAMA Network.

September 16: Discussion of "Effect of Remdesivir vs Standard Care on Clinical Status at 11 days in Patients with Moderate COVID-19" with Charles Leonard, PharmD, MSCE, and Garrett Keim, MD, MSCE student. Read the paper in JAMA Network.

July 22: Discussion of "Collider Bias Undermines Our Understanding of COVID-19 Disease Risk and Severity" with Adam Naj, PhD, and Yaqian Zhu, candidate in biostatistics. Read the paper in medRxiv preprint.

July 15:  Disussion of "Household Secondary Attack Rate of COVID-19 and Associated Determinants in Guangzhou, China: A Retrospective Cohort Study" with Vincent Lo Re, MD, MSCE, and Brianna Lindsay, MPH, PhD, epidemiologist and Senior Project Coordinator. Read the article in The Lancet.

July 8: Discussion of "Effect of Dexamethasone in Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19: Preliminary Report" with Sean Hennessy, PharmD, PhD, and Tara Friebel, MPH, PhD candidate in epidemiology. Read the paper in medRxiv preprint.

July 1: Discussion of "Social Network-Based Distancing Strategies to Flatten the COVID-19 Curve in a Post-Lockdown World" with John Holmes, PhD, FACE, FACMI, and Youjin Lee, PhD, postdoctoral researcher in the Center for Causal Inference. Read the paper in Nature Human Behavior.

June 24:  Discussion of "Practicalities and Pitfalls of Big Data" with Jason Moore, PhD, FACMI, and Silvia Canelon, PhD, postdoctoral research scientist in informatics. Read the two papers (both now retrracted) in The New England Journal of Medicine and in The Lancet.

June 17:  Discussion of "Disparities In Outcomes Among COVID-19 Patients In A Large Health Care System In California," with Allison Willis, MD, MS, and Danielle Abraham, PhD, MPH, postdoctoral researcher in epidemiology and neurology. Read the article in Health Affairs.

June 10: Discussion of "Remdesivir for the Treatment of COVID-19—Preliminary Report," with Susan Ellenberg, PhD, and biostatistics PhD candidate Lily Boe. Read the paper in The New England Journal of Medicine.

June 3: Discussion of "The Experiences of Healthcare Providers During the COVID-19 Crisis in China: a Qualitative Study" with Julia Szymczak, PhD, and Lindsay Glassman, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in epidemiology. Read the paper in Lancet Global Heath.

May 27:  Discussion of "Development and Validation of a Clinical Risk Score to Predict the Occurrence of Clinical Illness in Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19" with Erin Schnellinger, PhD student in epidemiology, and Jinbo Chen, PhD will be posted here soon. Read the paper in JAMA Internal Medicine.

May 20: Discussion of "COVID-19 in Children in the United States Intensive Care Admissions, Estimated Total Infected, and Projected Numbers of Severe Pediatric Cases in 2020," with Tuhina Srivastava, MPH, PhD Student in epidemiology, and Gregory Tasian, MD, MSc, MSCE.
Read the paper in the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice.

May 13:  Discussion of "Covid-19 and the Renin–Angiotensin–Aldosterone System" with Jordana Cohen, MD, MSCE, and Thomas Hanff, MD, MPH, Penn Cardiology Fellow & MSCE Candidate. Read the two papers in The New England Journal of Medicine: "Cardiovascular Disease, Drug Therapy, and Mortality in Covid-19" and "Renin–Angiotensin–Aldosterone System Blockers and the Risk of Covid-19."

May 6: Discussion of "Outcomes of Hydroxychloroquine Usage in United States Veterans Hospitalized with Covid-19" with Todd Miano, PharmD, PhD, MSCE, Instructor of Epidemiology, and Emily Acton, MSCE, incoming epidemiology PhD Student. Read the preprint on medRxiv.

April 29: Discussion of "Factors Associated With Mental Health Outcomes Among Health Care Workers Exposed to Coronavirus Disease 2019" with Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, and M. Elle Saine, PhD, MA, MD/PhD candidate in epidemiology. Read the paper in JAMA Network Open.

April 22: Discussion of "Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: A retrospective cohort study" with Gregory Bisson, MD, MSCE, and  Stephanie Teeple, MD/PhD candidate in epidemiology. Read the paper in The Lancet.

April 15: Discussion of "Estimating the Number of Infections and the Impact of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions on COVID-19 in 11 European Countries" with Michael Levy, PhD, and Arman Oganisian, PhD candidate in biostatistics. Read the paper by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team.

April 8: Discussion of "Temperature, Humidity and Latitude Analysis to Predict Potential Spread and Seasonality for COVID-19" with Douglas Wiebe, PhD, and Sherrie Xie, VMD/PhD candidate in epidemiology. Read the abstract in SSRN. (You can also create a free account to read the full paper.)

April 1: Discussion of "A Trial of Lopinavir-Ritonavir in Adults Hospitalized with Severe Covid-19" with Stephen E. Kimmel, MD, MSCE, and Neil Dhopeshwarkar, PharmD (PhD student in epidemiology) Read the paper in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Latest News

An Unrealistic Picture A less-than-robust testing and reporting system could skew our understanding of our COVID-19 infections rates. “It’s going to look like your cases are coming down when they’re not,” commented Jeffrey Morris, PhD. Read the article in Kaiser Health News.

In Science We Trust White House influence on the vaccine approval process “is not something we ever had to think about before,” says Susan Ellenberg, PhD. Though there are some valid concerns, she adds, “I’m hopeful that the process will play out in a way that’s driven by the science … this is a story for the ages.” Listen to the September 18 podcast by FiveThirtyEight

A Risky Football Season Michael Levy, PhD, commented that the National Football League’s attempts to play in the fall may be misguided. What we’ve learned over the spring and summer about the importance of distance and how long the virus is alive in the air may not hold when the air gets drier and colder, Levy said. Read the article in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Experts Required “Members of a data monitoring committee should all be very familiar with clinical trials,” says Susan Ellenberg, PhD, who wrote related FDA guidelines. She commented on questionable appointments to the data monitoring committee for NeuroRx’s COVID-19 treatment. Read the article in Politico.  

Evictions Could Worsen the Pandemic With Philadelphia’s delay on renter evictions set to expire, an editorial on how eviction crisis could exacerbate COVID-19 cited an epidemiological simulation created by Michael Levy, PhD, which showed that every 70 evicted households would correspond with at least one extra COVID-19 death. Read the opinion piece in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Read more news


Past, Present and Future of the Pandemic: Social Distancing Is Key Research led by Jing Huang, PhD; Gregory Tasian, MD, MSc, MSCE; and David Rubin, MD, MSCE, of  PolicyLab at CHOP, portrays multiple local stories of the pandemic in the US dating back to February of this year—finding that social distancing was, and is, among the most effective interventions to reduce the spread of the disease.

How Informaticians Can Advance COVID-19 Research Critical to research and to the delivery of healthcare during the pandemic is the participation of biomedical informaticians who typically work on other basic science or clinical problems. Fourteen of our informaticians and biostatisticians contributed to a BioData Mining editorial that highlights some prime COVID-19 targets for informatics expertise.

New Model Shows Importance of Local Features in COVID-19 Spread As pressures mount to reopen U.S. businesses that were shuttered to prevent COVID-19 spread, a pressing question is, at what level of government should these judgments be made? A new model of disease transmission shows that city- and county-level characteristics have significant impact. Research leads: David Rubin, MD, MSCE; Gregory Tasian, MD, MSc, MSCE; Jing Huang, PhD

COVID-19 Mortality: Does the Renin-Angiotensin System Play a Role? (article via the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics) Mortality risk from COVID-19 seems to be associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension—disorders that share an underlying pathophysiology related to the renin-angiotensin system. That relationship may provide important clinical insights about how we treat COVID-19—but first, we need to clearly understand the causal mechanism that lies at the heart of it. Lead author Thomas C. Hanff, MD, MPH is a student in the CCEB's Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology program. Additional authors include Michael O. Harhay, PhD, MPH; Tyler S. Brown, MD; Jordana B. Cohen, MD, MSCE; and Amir M. Mohareb, MD.

Predicting Who’s at Risk: Electronic Health Records and a Polygenic Approach May Be Key Why do some people carry a disease like COVID-19 and remain asymptomatic, while others who have no underlying conditions may die from it? Genetics may be key—and an especially promising approach is the polygenic risk score, using data from biobank-linked electronic health records. But there are challenges, write postdoctoral researcher Ruowang Li, PhD; Yong Chen, PhD; Marylyn D. Ritchie, PhD; and Jason H. Moore, PhD.

Facillitating N95 Respirator Re-Use (scroll down to find the full PDF on Science Direct) As supplies of N95 respirators run low in hospitals, a team proposes a way to allow re-use. They suggest repurposing phototherapy devices, including narrow band ultraviolet B units dermatology offices often employ, as platforms for ultraviolet C germicidal disinfection. Authors: Iltefat H.Hamzavi, MD; Alexis B.Lyons, MD; Indermeet Kohli, PhD; Shanthi Narla, MD; Angela Parks-Miller, CCRP, CWCA; Joel M.Gelfand, MD, MSCE; Henry W. Lim, MD; David Ozog, MD

Share this Content

About Us

To understand health and disease today, we need new thinking and novel science —the kind  we create when multiple disciplines work together from the ground up. That is why this department has put forward a bold vision in population-health science: a single academic home for biostatistics, epidemiology and informatics. MORE

© 2019 Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved. | Disclaimer

Follow Us