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Project IV:
The Assessment-analysis Interface


  • Patrick Gurian, Drexel University (pgurian@drexel.edu)
  • Elizabeth Casman, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Mitchell Small, Carnegie Mellon University


  • Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
  • Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA


Project Summary:

  1. Objectives: This project will link the technical research on bio-threats conducted in other CAMRA projects with the societal goal of managing the risk of bioterrorism through two related research efforts. The first effort will use techniques from decision analysis to prioritize research efforts based on their ability to improve the response to bioterrorism incidents. The second effort will identify and begin to address critical issues of public perception that have the potential to influence the public's compliance with response and mitigation plans.
  2. Approach: An integrated model of bio-threat fate and transport, dose-response, secondary transmission, and mitigation actions will be developed. The ability of alternative research efforts to reduce uncertainties in different inputs to this integrated model will be assessed. Value-of-information calculations will be conducted to identify the research strategies most likely to yield knowledge that improves the response to bioterrorism incidents. Risk communication priorities will be identified using the "mental models" approach. This begins with an assessment of expert knowledge and representation of this knowledge in an influence diagram. Baseline public knowledge and attitudes are assessed by semi-structured interviews and surveys. The lay knowledge is then compared to the expert model and key misconceptions and information deficiencies are identified. Future risk communication efforts may then be directed towards addressing these key deficiencies.


Expected Results or Benefits:

This project will identify promising research strategies with the potential to improve the societal management of bioterrorism risk. In addition, it will develop a list of risk communication priorities for both pre-event public education and post-event response plans. This project will link together Projects I-III through the development of an integrated model and will identify critical information for inclusion in the knowledge and information repositories of Project V