Quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) is a growing multidisciplinary field consisting of a formal process for .QMRA addressing exposures to microbial pathogens and infectious disease processes. QMRA provides greater sensitivity in human health risk measurement than conventional epidemiological approaches, and has become a widely accepted framework for the study of water quality and food. Lying at the confluence of mathematics, biology, engineering, and policy, risk assessment is a complex but highly useful approach applicable to a wide variety of disease scenarios. Risk assessment advances decision science in public health, emergency response, environmental control measures, decontamination, industrial hygiene, and medical countermeasures. Risk analyses must also include risk communication and risk perception in order to know which risk mitigation decisions to take. Despite the utility of the QMRA approach, few biological or social scientists are trained in this process or have sufficient statistical and quantitative skills for such analyse, and few QMRA tools or models are available to people lacking modeling skills. Similarly, few statisticians or modelers possess the necessary social science skills to adequately address issues of human behavior that affect exposure to pathogenic agents, or responses to real or perceived health risks. We will provide QMRA training to enhance multidisciplinary research associated with these key proficiency and knowledge gaps through a two week, intensive short course that will: (1) provide training in identifying and quantifying risk; (2) provide training inrisk perception and communication; (3) develop tools and lessons for learning QMRA and make them freely available; and (4) develop and publish novel risk analyses of emerging pathogens of global and clinical significance. QMRA III builds upon a successful week-long intensive course that was conducted annually by the Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment (CAMRA) from 2006 to 2011. Its application of practical, hands-on training to students from diverse backgrounds enhanced participants' ability to use QMRA in their work. QMRA III will equip biomedical and behavioral scientists with training and tools necessary for highly credible quantitative microbial risk assessments, supporting evidence-based public health policies regarding emerging pathogens and disease prevention.
Relevance of this research to public health: Careful and rigorous risk analysis is necessary for making informed decisions in order to minimize risks to public health from infectious diseases. However, risk analysis methodology is not widely understood. By providing a solid grounding in the principles of quantitative microbial risk assessment, the QMRA III education program will equip professionals to conduct research and make decisions to minimize risks from infectious disease.
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