Mathematical Modeling of Communicable Diseases: Expanding Public Health in Medical Education

Thomas Savage, Ami Shah, Naweed Karimi, Anushua Sinha, Bart Holland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mathematical transmission (MT) modeling is the technique of utilizing mathematics and computer science to predict how an infection will move through a population over time, producing projections that inform public health decisions. This study presents our innovative course, Math and Medicine: The Importance of Modeling Infectious Diseases to Improve Population Health at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, which is the first to introduce MT modeling within medical education. The objectives of the class were to teach medical students to (1) recognize the importance of MT modeling, (2) understand the principles of an MT model, (3) realize how programming software can be used to evaluate these models, and (4) understand and interpret results of an MT model from a current publication. Survey results indicate that the course was effective in demonstrating the value of MT modeling to medical students and in showing students how programming software can be used to find results. There was also improvement in the student’s perception of their ability to understand and interpret models from infectious disease literature; however, this improvement did not reach statistical significance. These results emphasize the need for courses in MT modeling to be a more integrated and cohesive part of medical education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-313
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Science Educator
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


  • Infectious disease
  • Mathematics
  • Medical education
  • Medical students
  • Modeling
  • Public health


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