Tag Archives: public health

MRC-funded PhD studentships in Agent-Based Modelling

Here at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow we recently announced a whole host of PhD topics for students looking to join us on our interdisciplinary quest to improve public health and reduce health inequalities.  The studentships are funded by either the Medical Research Council (MRC) or the University of Glasgow, and cover the full cost of tuition fees and provide a stipend.

Students who have a Masters-level degree already can jump right into the three-year funded PhD, or if you’re fresh out of undergraduate education you can join a four-year programme and get your Masters in the first year.

In the Complexity and Health Improvement Programme we are offering up a few potential topics on the application of agent-based models to public health challenges, supervised by myself, Rich Mitchell, Mark McCann, and Umberto Gostoli.  If you’re keen to get involved in this relatively new area of work in public health, do read through the topics and get in touch with the Programme Leader (and Unit Director) Laurence Moore as soon as you can, in order to discuss your proposal.

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Paper submitted to Agent-Based Modelling of Urban Systems workshop

Just submitted a new paper with several colleagues from Teesside to the ABMUS 17 workshop at this year’s AAMAS conference in Brazil.  This is an overview of early-stage work on an agent-based modelling framework incorporating a 3D virtual environment.  The intention is to create an ABM that can be used as a research tool, simulating the actions and interactions of simulated agents in order to study some pressing problems in public health, and also as a learning tool that allows users to interact with the virtual world and see the health impact of changes to agent behaviour or their environment.

Here’s a little preview in the form of a screenshot of the paper itself — I’ll post the whole thing as usual if it’s accepted.

virtualenvpaper

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Evidence, Policy and Regulation: The Importance of Context

I’ve just confirmed my attendance next week at an interesting seminar at Durham University:

The Importance of Context: evidence, values and assumptions in public health policy seminar:  In Stockton-on-Tees, the difference in male life expectancy at birth between the most and least deprived areas is 17 years – the highest in England.  This reflects a larger pattern in which health inequalities are increasing in parallel with the rise of economic inequality, and despite stated policy commitments to reducing them.  Review of current policies suggests that the application and interpretation of research evidence in public health policy relies on questionable assumptions about a high degree of choice and control over lifestyle, income, and quotidian living/working environment.  Rich and poor live in different ‘epidemiological worlds’, and some have far more control over those worlds than others.  Against this background, what forms of evidence, disciplinary perspectives and research methodologies are most relevant for the design of policies to reduce health inequalities?

I am writing on behalf of Linda McKie (Professor and Head of School, School of Applied Social Science, Durham University), Nancy Cartwright (Professor of Philosophy, Durham University) and myself  to invite you to an interactive workshop on 2 December, 2015 on Evidence, Values and Assumptions in Public Health Policy.  The seminar is part of the 2015-16 activity theme (‘Evidence’) of Durham’s Institute of Advance Study, and of the activities of an ESRC-supported seminar series on Revitalising the Health Equity Agenda.  Key contributors:

  • Dr. Katherine Smith (Reader, Global Public Health Unit, University of Edinburgh; author, Beyond Evidence Based Policy in Public Health: The Interplay of Ideas; winner of a 2014 Philip Leverhulme Prize for outstanding early career achievements in social policy), on the diverse journeys that characterise the movement of evidence and ideas about health inequalities into public health policy;
  • Prof. Ted Schrecker (Professor of Global Health Policy, Durham University; co-author, How Politics Makes Us Sick: Neoliberal Epidemics) on how the treatment of evidence, values and assumptions in environmental health policy sheds light on the question of how much evidence is enough to act on socioeconomic inequalities that drive health inequalities (the standard of proof question).

The seminar will be held at the Institute of Advanced Study seminar room, Palace Green, Durham on Wednesday, 2 December with coffee at 14:00; the seminar will run from 14:30 to 17:00. In order to maximise opportunities for interaction and developing an agenda for future activities, we will be distributing background materials and a discussion guide in advance of the seminar.

I’m hoping to do some work on how health inequalities emerge (using simulation, of course) so I’m excited for this seminar.  I want to make the case for simulation methodologies as a particularly useful approach for examining policies — given that they can provide insight into the individual-level impact of high-level policy decisions, and allow policy-makers to play around with possible changes in silico before actually inflicting them on the populace.

 

As usual I’ll report back with my impressions….

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