One Health Modeling Research at UMKC Seeks New Tools to Combat Antimicrobial-Resistant Organisms

One Health Modeling Research at UMKC Seeks New Tools to Combat Antimicrobial-Resistant Organisms

The Midwest Virtual Laboratory of Pathogen Transmission in Healthcare Settings (MVL-PATHS), an interdisciplinary research collaborative, will use a One Health modeling approach to understand the source, distribution, and spread of AMR Enterobacteriaceae with a focus on extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing E. coli.  

Mathematical models are invaluable, essential tools in combating infectious diseases. Nonetheless, the current models are far less useful than they could be for coping with an ongoing pandemic and the growing threat of antimicrobial-resistant organisms. A new generation of computational and mathematical models will be developed to incorporate interconnections between animals, people, and their shared environment.  

The central hypothesis is that the outputs of mathematical and computation models will provide optimized and effective guidelines to reduce the threat of antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) pathogen spread. These models will examine a wide range of possibilities for the emergence of AMR bacteria within and between farms, local communities, and healthcare facilities. For instance, at the farm level, we will model farmworkers’ exposures to ESBL-producing E. coli, given different efficacy levels of biosecurity measures. The main question is: what feasible actions can prevent farmworker’s exposure to AMR bacteria? The same question can be asked regarding healthcare workers in a hospital or caregivers in a nursing home. These models are interconnected and can simulate how an individual’s actions can affect the other workers and the community. The new generation of models will lead to the development of a virtual laboratory in which researchers can investigate drivers of pathogen transmission in healthcare settings, farms, and nursing homes.  

The research outputs of this project will expand and strengthen national One Health efforts to combat resistance. They will directly impact the CDC and its public health partners’ ability to reduce the costs, morbidity, and mortality of healthcare associated infections.  

To accomplish this, we have assembled a vibrant team of interdisciplinary researchers with a track record of coauthored research publications and collaborative research in the mathematical modeling of infectious disease. The team consists of Dr. Gary Sutkin (UMKC School of Medicine and University Health Truman Medical Center), who is the program director; Dr. Sharif Aly and Dr. Pranav Pandit (University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine), who will play a major role in development and calibration of One Health models at the farm and environment level; Dr. Alex Francisco (KCMO Health Department) and Dr. Jenifer Allsworth (UMKC Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics), who are social epidemiologists and will study the transmission of infection in nursing homes; and Dr. Majid Bani-Yaghoub and Dr. Md Yusuf Sarwar Uddin (UMKC Division of Computing and Analytics), who will develop the new generation of agent-based models and the virtual laboratory.  

By Majid Bani-Yaghoub, PhD, UMKC