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DARPA Challenge Seeks Teams to Predict CHIKV Virus Spread; Matthew Hepburn Comments

DARPAThe Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is seeking models to predict the spread of the Chikungunya virus in the Americas through a challenge worth $150,000 in prizes.

Participating CHIKV Challenge teams will work to forecast the escalation of the virus in the Americas and the Caribbean countries over a six-month period beginning in September 2014, DARPA said Friday.

“Forecasts would be extremely helpful to public health officials in containing infectious diseases, but it is really difficult. The science of forecasting is a work in progress,” said Matthew Hepburn, DARPA program manager for the CHIKV Challenge.

The Chikungunya virus spreads among humans by mosquitoes and across boundaries by travelers.

DARPA’s challenge is inviting teams from various fields such as public health and infectious disease, mathematics, meteorology, entomology, computer science and bioinformatics.

The winners will meet with government experts in predictive modeling at the culmination of the challenge.

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