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Four teams of researchers focused on COVID-19 related data analysis and modeling received grants from the University of California Health and California Department of Public Health (CDPH) COVID Modeling Consortium, an innovative consortium launched last year to ensure public health policy makers have timely, relevant analysis and insights to support pandemic-related decision making.

The areas of focus for the funding were driven by priorities set by CDPH for gaining deeper understanding of COVID-19 matters, such as disease detection and impact, virus transmission and behavior, mitigation strategies, and social and behavioral considerations.

The studies selected for the grants are designed to provide insights on COVID-19 related challenges such as forecasting, understanding disease risk for Black populations, effectiveness of K-12 school mitigation strategies, and disparities in COVID-19 vaccination acceptance. The research proposals, which together received approximately $236,000 in funding, are:

  • A study to improve accuracy and precision of COVID-19 forecasts and scenarios through analysis of inputs from multiple data sources by UC Irvine investigators
  • A Black-focused assessment of indicators for COVID-19 risk reduction by UCLA investigators
  • Epidemiologic and model-based assessments of K-12 public health policies for mitigation of SARS-CoV-2 variant transmission in schools by UC Berkeley investigators
  • Examination of factors associated with COVID-19 vaccination uptake disparities by UCSF investigators

“We were pleased that the consortium is able to support these researchers in projects that are advancing our understanding of the virus and the disease. Public health officials and our communities have a critical, ongoing need for research-based information in real-time that can help guide actions and policies,” said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, co-chair of the consortium and professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and vice dean for Population Health and Health Equity in the UCSF School of Medicine.

The funded projects were selected through a multi-step review process following a call for proposals to approximately 150 researchers across UC campuses working on COVID-19 research as well as the 200+ members of the consortium. All of the research projects are reviewed and monitored by the applicable campus institutional review board and follow established protocols for use of health data.

“Our partnership with academic experts at University of California Health to provide evidence, data, and projections to inform our public health mitigation strategies and policies has been crucial, and we are thrilled to support these important projects including work to better understand and address disparities to better serve and protect Californian communities,” said Dr. Erica Pan, CDPH State Epidemiologist and co-chair of the consortium.

“Conditions in our communities continue to evolve every day, and we must continue to have scientific evaluation of the impact of COVID-19 and effectiveness of prevention and mitigation strategies. It is rewarding to be working with CDPH to align the data research capabilities of the UC system with the needs of the State,” said Dr. Maya L. Petersen, co-chair of the consortium and chair of the Division of Biostatistics at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health.

The University of California Health and CDPH COVID Modeling Consortium is a regular forum in which UC faculty in epidemiology, infectious diseases, economics, statistics, computer science, ecology and data modeling work with CDPH modelers and public health experts to develop information to inform the pandemic response in California. Through the consortium, researchers provide updated analyses and discuss new developments in COVID-19 to provide real-time evidence to inform public health decision making. State public health leaders provide input about the types of information that will be most meaningful in thoroughly understanding the health-related patterns and economic impact of COVID-19 in California. 

“The pandemic has highlighted the many ways support is needed for public health infrastructure in California and the nation. We’ve seen the importance of building and maintaining robust data systems for research and analysis to inform actionable strategies,” said Dr. Carrie L. Byington, executive vice president of University of California Health and an infectious disease expert. “The learnings from this consortium and UC research go beyond immediate study findings. This work is providing a roadmap for how to effectively structure and leverage disparate data sets to support both pandemic response and public health programs overall.” 

About the Consortium

The University of California Health and CDPH COVID Modeling Consortium unites UC investigators and California Department of Public Health leaders in a forum to help guide policy decision-making during the COVID-19 pandemic. The consortium aims to facilitate direct, timely engagement and conversation between policymakers and investigators, with discussions focused on high-priority topics such as vaccinations, health equity, economic impact, challenges of new variants, and epidemiological forecasting and nowcasting. More information is available on the consortium's website

About University of California Health

University of California Health comprises six academic health centers, 20 health professional schools, a Global Health Institute and systemwide services that improve the health of patients and the University’s students, faculty and employees. All of UC’s hospitals are ranked among the best in California and its medical schools and health professional schools are nationally ranked in their respective areas.