Griffin West Ballroom

Mathematical modelling and the integration of diverse and underserved populations in (pre)clinical research and public health

Friday, July 21 at 9:00am

SMB2023 SMB2023 Follow Friday during the "DEI Session" time block.
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Morgan Craig, Reginald McGee, Stacey Finley


The SMB Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee was formed in 2020 and focuses on the development, implementation, and oversight of initiatives that support and promote all SMB members regardless of race, color, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, national origin, age, and disability. This year, the DEI committee is calling attention to mathematical modelling along the drug development pipeline and in public health that focuses on the inclusion of diverse and underserved populations. A pressing problem in (pre)clinical and public health research is the exclusion of many groups of people, thus severely limiting the research conclusions that can be drawn and the overall applicability of the work. Critically, the lack of inclusion in health research reinforces existing inequalities and results in poorer health outcomes. In our 2023 minisymposium, we are highlighting some of the excellent mathematical modelling work being carried out in our Society that seeks to address this high-priority issue in biomedicine and public health. This session will end with a brief panel discussion with our speakers.

Maureiq Ojwang

Moffitt Cancer Center (Integrated Mathematical Oncology)
"Using digitized histology images to assess the hindering effects of hypoxia on T cell infiltration in orthotopic bladder tumors in mice"
Hypoxia is prevalent in many solid tumors, including bladder cancers. We analyzed bladder cancer tissues harvested from mice that received intravesical treatments of Gemcitabine and/or intravesical adoptive cell therapy with OT-I transgenic CD8+ T cells, in addition to untreated controls. We developed a multi-cell off-lattice hybrid agent-based model that combines discrete cells and vasculature with continuous oxygen kinetics to simulate stable tissue oxygenation. We determined the oxygenation status, spatial distributions, and colocalizations of immune cells in untreated vs. treated tissues. Our reconstructed tissue oxygenation based on histology images revealed that hypoxic niches hinder immune cell accumulation in both treated and untreated tumors. Although tumors have hypoxic areas, most of the immune cells were residing in well-oxygenated regions. Such quantitative analyses may encourage designing more effective immunotherapies suited for hypoxic conditions.

Justin Sheen

Princeton University (Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)
"The effect of evictions on the transmission of SARS-CoV-2"
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to surges in unemployment, which in turn have left many tenants unable to pay their rent. This looming eviction crisis could have severe consequences on SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Studies show that many evicted households “double-up,” moving in with family or friends. Doubling-up shifts the distribution of household sizes upwards, facilitating SARS-CoV-2 spread. To study the effect of evictions on SARS-CoV-2 at a population level, we present an SEIR network model tracking both household and external contacts, and use it to simulate epidemic trajectories within a theoretical metropolitan area of one million individuals. We divide the simulation into temporal phases to reproduce the epidemic since early 2020: (1) an early exponential phase, followed by (2) lockdown of external contacts, (3) relaxation of lockdown of external contacts. In the fourth phase we project the course of the epidemic beyond Fall 2020 under two counterfactual scenarios, one in which evictions continue, and the other in which they are halted. In some simulations we consider a fifth phase in which lockdown is reinitiated. In a simple model, which assumes homogeneous mixing in the simulated city, we expect a 1%/month eviction rate (with all evictions resulting in doubling-up) to cause a 3-6% increase in seroprevalence vs. if evictions were prevented, and approximately 1 excess death for every 70 evicted households. The effect of evictions is even more profound in models that consider clustering of evictions and transmission in poorer neighborhoods. We also consider evictions that lead to homelessness, and relocation to shelters/encampments. Across all scenarios, we find that evictions (1) increase the total number of infected individuals, in both evicted and non-evicted households; and, (2) decrease the efficacy of a hypothetical second lockdown. The generality of our results provide a theoretical basis to assess eviction moratoriums in any city.

Session Organizers

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee)
"Panel discussion on integration of diverse and underserved populations in (pre)clinical research and public health"
This panel discussion with Maureiq Ojwang, Justin Sheen, and Renee Brady-Nicholls will follow the two talks in our session. We will discuss the considerations and integration of DEI principles in preclinical, clinical, and public health modelling research.

Hosted by SMB2023 Follow
Annual Meeting for the Society for Mathematical Biology, 2023.

Organizing committee
  • Laura Kubatko, chair
  • Adriana Dawes
  • Mary Ann Horn
  • Janet Best
  • Adrian Lam
  • Grzegorz Rempala
  • Will Gehring
Scientific organizing committee
  • Adriana Dawes
  • Mary Ann Horn
  • Jane Heffernan
  • Hayriye Gulbudak
  • Jeffrey West
SMB 2023 is being held on the campus of The Ohio State University. As visitors to campus, all SMB participants must follow The Ohio State University Policy on Non-Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct.