The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week it’s launching a new center for public health data, known as the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics.

The new center will accelerate the use and access to public health data for public health decision-makers who need this vital data to help mitigate the spread of diseases. The center will also serve “as a hub for innovation and research on disease modeling,” according to a CDC press release.

“This is an amazing opportunity for CDC and public health as we stand up the country’s first government-wide public health forecasting center,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. “We are excited to have the expertise and ability to model and forecast public health concerns and share information in real-time to activate governmental, private sector, and public actions in anticipation of threats both domestically and abroad.”

With initial funding from the American Rescue Plan, the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics will have three focus areas: disease prediction; data sharing and integration; and effective communications with public health decision-makers.

The new center will build upon the CDC’s existing modeling efforts and “improve the U.S. government’s ability to forecast and model emerging health threats,” amid the continued fight against COVID-19 and the spread of the delta variant across the country.

The center also has a new leadership team consisting of Dr. Marc Lipsitch, director for science, Dr. Dylan George, director for operations, Dr. Caitlin Rivers, associate director, and Dr. Rebecca Kahn, senior scientist.

“The new center will meet a longstanding need for a national focal point to analyze data and forecast the trajectory of pandemics with the express goal of informing and improving decisions with the best available evidence,” said Lipsitch. “I am thrilled to be working with a great team at CDC to set it up, and excited to integrate the best and most innovative ideas from academia, the private sector, and government to make this a reality that will truly improve our response to future pandemics, and indeed to other infectious diseases.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.