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Gary Smith is Emeritus Professor of Population Biology and Epidemiology in the School of Veterinary Medicine at Penn. When he retired in 2016 he was the Chief of the Section of Epidemiology and Public Health. He holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine and is a Fellow of the Center for Public Health Initiatives. He has Bachelor’s Degrees in Zoology (Oxford University) and Education (University of Cambridge) and was awarded a D.Phil. by York University. After several years as a High School Teacher (in England), he began his University career as a field ecologist and became interested in the use of mathematic models of infectious disease transmission to make sense of data during two fellowships at Imperial College in Roy Anderson’s laboratory. His took up his position at Penn in 1986, and divided his research time almost equally between classical epidemiological study types and mathematical modeling. His Section was equally at home working with infectious diseases of people or animals. Since 2016 he has taught core and elective courses in Epidemiology in the Penn Masters of Public Health Program. He has over 100 peer-reviewed papers, edited two text books and authored a third.

In 1992 he served on an FAO/WHO Expert Committee on the implementation of farm models in the developing world; he served on the Pennsylvania Food Quality Assurance Committee between 1995-1996; in 1999 he was a member of a European Union Expert Committee on Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy risk and in 2003 he served on a Whitehouse Blue Ribbon Panel on Agroterrorism for the Federal Office of Science and Technology Policy. He has twice been asked to testify before the Pennsylvania House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee (on Foot and Mouth Disease, and on Agroterrorism). In 2007-2008, and then again in 2009-2010 he served on the National Academies Committee reviewing the NIH supplementary documents pertaining to the National Emerging Diseases Laboratory, Boston University. In 2012 he was a reviewer of the evaluation of the updated site-specific risk assessment for the NBAF in Manhattan, Kansas. He was a member of the Advisory Board for the Disaster Medicine and Management program at Philadelphia University, and continues to be a speaker Pennsylvania Task Force Trainings in which he advises on the role of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in the face of large-scale animal epidemics.

Presentation: 59:00


The seminar will contain a very brief outline of the different kinds of mathematical models of COVID 19 transmission that are informing control policies in the USA. The emphasis will be on the qualitative differences between the models (no math required) and the goal is to demistify this increasingly common methodology for evaluating putative infectious disease control strategies.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the formats of the kinds of mathematical models of infectious disease transmission that have been used to inform disease control policy
  • Explain the manner in which modelers hope their models will be used to guide policy
  • In the specific case of COVID 19, discuss which models have been cited by national policy makers as justification for specific disease control policies