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New transmission model for Ebola predicted Uganda cases

MANHATTAN — A new risk assessment model for the transmission of Ebola accurately predicted its spread into the Republic of Uganda, according to the Kansas State University researchers who developed it.

Caterina Scoglio, professor, and Mahbubul Riad, doctoral student, both in the Mike Wiegers Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering at Kansas State University; Musa Sekamatte and Issa Makumbi at Uganda Ministry of Health; and Felix Ocom with the World Health Organization in Uganda, published “Risk assessment of Ebola virus disease spreading in Uganda using a multilayer temporal network” in bioRxiv on May 23.

The paper describes a new model to better predict how diseases like Ebola spread. The model combines data of people’s constant contacts — such as family members and co-workers — with their temporary contacts — such as people in a market or encountered during travel. According to Scoglio, the model should be used as a risk assessment tool to prepare and distribute resources, but it also has been accurate thus far regarding the movement of Ebola from the Democratic Republic of Congo into Uganda.

“This is very a new type of model,” Scoglio said. “Since we consider movement data in addition to constant contacts, we saw that not only are the districts directly bordering Congo at risk but that the districts on the path to some important Ugandan destinations also are at risk.”

In 2018, Scoglio and her collaborators worked with Ugandan officials to collect movement data to model disease progression and find areas most at risk. According to the model, the Kasese district was the highest risk area for an infected person to enter the country. The researchers used the model to create a 150-day simulation of possible disease progression in Uganda and produced a map of 23 Ugandan districts at risk.

The specific scenario used in the simulation is similar to actual events so far. According to the Uganda Health Ministry’s June 18 release, there are three confirmed cases of Ebola in travelers to Uganda — all from one family that entered the country at the Kasese district border.

“The risk assessment maps can be used to allocate and distribute limited resources,” Scoglio said. “Uganda has about 4,000 doses of the new Ebola vaccine. They are vaccinating health workers, communicating about how to prevent spreading diseases, and advising people to limit travel in high-risk areas. We have much respect and admiration for how Uganda has organized the preparedness and now the response.”

The researchers used the simulation of Ebola in Uganda to test their model because there is a lot of traffic coming into the country from the Democratic Republic of Congo for health care, trading and refuge. Ebola is highly contagious through physical contact with an infected person and their bodily fluids.

Scoglio said that even though the real events in Uganda have aligned with the simulated model, the scenario should only be used to mitigate the risk.

“One very important point for the public to understand is the concept of risk and probability with these maps,” Scoglio said. “It should not be interpreted that these red regions will be affected because that will cause panic in the population, but rather these are a guide for allocation of limited resources in regions that could be potentially affected if no mitigations are implemented.”

This model may open a new era in infectious disease management, Scoglio said. She gives credit to Aram Vajdi, doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering at Kansas State University, for developing the framework for the theoretical model based on a multilayer temporal network and the Gillespie algorithm. Scoglio also praised Riad, who applied the data collected from Uganda and how Ebola was transmitted to create the risk assessment.

According to Scoglio, network models used for highly infectious disease risk assessment must be able to anticipate changes in human-to-human contacts — unlike many other models, which are based mainly on constant contacts and constant movement flows. Using these models can help increase the effectiveness of preventive measures by targeting the most critical regions and can help decrease the risk of Ebola and other infectious diseases from spreading.

College of Engineering Ambassadors named for 2019

MANHATTAN — The Kansas State University Carl R. Ice College of Engineeringhas made its selection of 28 students for membership in the Engineering Ambassadors organization.

Engineering Ambassadors are current College of Engineering students chosen to promote the engineering profession and act as hosts for the college. Each ambassador assists with recruitment initiatives that occur both on and off campus.

Students with strong academic and leadership records are eligible for membership, and must have successfully completed the College Leadership, Understanding and Education Program, in addition to participating in a two-round selections process.

Co-advisers Leanne Reineman, senior recruitment coordinator, and Craig Wanklyn, assistant dean, announced the following members for 2019:

From Greater Kansas City: Calder Knapp, sophomore in mechanical engineering, Kansas City; Nate Oswalt, junior in industrial engineering, and Megan Wheeler, sophomore in industrial engineering, both from Lenexa; Thomas Carlson, junior in mechanical engineering, Erin Hartegan, sophomore in industrial engineering, Dugan Hult, junior in biological systems engineering, and Carter Tews, junior in biomedical engineering, all from Olathe; and Cooper Bredehoeft, sophomore in industrial engineering, Nick Nolkemper, sophomore in industrial engineering, Jack Pleimann, sophomore in computer science, Justin Schieber, junior in computer science, and Collin Tretter, junior in architectural engineering, all from Overland Park.

Sean Clennan, sophomore in mechanical engineering, Hutchinson; Carter Oeding, sophomore in chemical engineering, Kingman; William Erickson, sophomore in chemical engineering, and Meg Mankin, junior in biological systems engineering, both from Manhattan; Corbin Wheeler, sophomore in electrical engineering, Marion; Tanner Duerksen, freshman in mechanical engineering, Newton; Kelli Ward, sophomore in mechanical engineering, Salina; Zane Roberts, sophomore in computer science, St. George; Cecilia Schmitz, sophomore in biomedical engineering, Topeka; Tessa Seeberger, junior in industrial engineering, Wamego; and Sophie Braynock, sophomore in biomedical engineering, Wichita.

From out of state: Sarah Carr, freshman in civil engineering, Hampshire, Illinois; Raymond Nellis, sophomore in chemical engineering, Clarinda, Iowa; Saul Jimenez, sophomore in construction science and management, and Brandon Bednar, freshman in computer science, both from Kansas City, Missouri; and Julia Munsell, junior in electrical engineering, Lee’s Summit, Missouri.

Kansas State University launches Center of Excellence for Pancreatic Cancer Research

MANHATTAN — The Johnson Cancer Research Center at Kansas State University has launched a Center of Excellence for Pancreatic Cancer Research. The center has three areas of focus: cancer detection, drug discovery and studies involving in-vivo techniques and magnetic resonance imaging.

The center is led by Stefan Bossmann, professor of chemistry. The focus areas are led by, respectively, Jun Li, professor of chemistry; Duy Hua, university distinguished professor of chemistry; and Jianzhong Yu, assistant professor of anatomy and physiology.

Pancreatic cancer is the third-deadliest cancer in the U.S. Most pancreatic cancers are diagnosed late due to the absence of symptoms. Only 1 percent of people diagnosed at stage IV live another five years.

“Sadly, pancreatic cancer survival rates have remained unchanged in the past decade,” Bossmann said. “New strategies for detection and treatment are urgently needed.”

A major goal of the center is to make earlier detection possible by developing inexpensive liquid biopsy methods that enable frequent and routine testing for onset or recurrence of pancreatic cancer.

A second goal is to develop new drug therapies using cutting-edge chemical synthesis and characterization methods, expert nanotechnology, state-of-the-art in-vitro experimentation and ultra-high-field MRI methods.

“We are excited to fund this center of excellence that brings together outstanding K-State scientists to attack one of the world’s toughest cancers as a multidisciplinary team,” said S. Keith Chapes, interim director of the Johnson Cancer Research Center. “We thank our supporters for making it possible to implement this next step in our strategic plan to become a National Cancer Institute-Designated Basic Laboratory Cancer Center.”

“This Center of Excellence for Pancreatic Cancer Research is an exciting step forward in K-State’s fight against cancer,” said Richard Myers, Kansas State University president. “Moreover, it supports our 2025 vision to be recognized as a Top 50 public research university and our goal, as a land-grant university, to improve the quality of life for all through research.”

Other scientists involved in the center of excellence are Thomas Mueller, research assistant professor of biology; Om Prakash, professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics; Punit Prakash, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Chris Culbertson, professor of chemistry; Tej Shrestha, laboratory coordinator in anatomy and physiology; and Matthew Basel, clinical assistant professor in anatomy and physiology. Supporting their work with pancreatic cancer biospecimens will be Anup Kasi, associate professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

The Johnson Cancer Research Center, in the College of Arts and Sciences, supports and advances cancer research and education at Kansas State University. All of its programs are made possible by private funding. Information about the center is at cancer.k-state.edu.


KSU and GE Collaborative Tutorial at 53rd Annual Meeting of the IEEE Industry Application Society

Dr. Jiangbiao He from General Electric (GE) Global Research Center and Dr. Behrooz Mirafzal from College of Engineering at Kansas State University presented a tutorial at the IEEE Industry Application 53rd Annual Meeting in Portland, OR,  entitled “Health Monitoring and Fault-Tolerant Operation of VFDs in On-the-Move Energy Technologies”

For more information: https://ias.ieee.org/2018annualmeeting/tutorials.html

ECE Alumnis Named Trustees for KSU Foundation

Following an election September 7 at the semiannual meeting of Kansas State University Foundation’s Board of Trustees in Manhattan, Kansas, three members were re-elected to three-year terms on the foundation’s board of directors, and 49 members were elected to four-year terms on its board of trustees.

The KSU Foundation now has 348 trustees serving as the university’s premier advocates, ambassadors and investors.

The KSU Foundation’s Board of Directors oversees management, control and supervision of the KSU Foundation’s business and affairs. Re-elected to the board of directors were the following: Charlene Lake, Dallas, Texas, who earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1983; Steve Theede, Houston, Texas, who earned his bachelor’s of mechanical engineering degree from the College of Engineering in 1974; and Mary Vanier, Manhattan, Kansas, who earned her bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management from the College of Human Ecology in 1989.

The following individuals from Kansas were elected trustees of the KSU Foundation: Karen and Mike Pestinger, Beloit; Amro and Darla Samy, Garden City; Beth and Trahy Hurst, Junction City; Tom and Vera Hintz, Manhattan; Jane and Wayne Ingmire, Manhattan; Roger Lanksbury, Manhattan; Christy Linders, Manhattan; Garren and Heidi Walrod, Randolph; Lynette and Mick Tranbarger, Wichita; and Diane and Jerry McReynolds, Woodston,

From out-of-state: Don Gemaehlich, Chandler, Arizona; Doug and Sabrina Kruse, Templeton, California; Andrew and Megan Murphy, Telluride, Colorado; Larry and Linda Nelson, Washington, D.C.; Marta and Tim Belstra, DeMotte, Indiana; Cathy and Tom Ritter; Reistertown, Maryland; Sue and Tim Regan, Waterloo, Nebraska; Karen and Scott Love, Bartlesville, Oklahoma; JP and Teresa Bilbrey, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania; Janet Strohmeyer, Austin, Texas; Audrey Mross, Dallas, Texas; Julie and Scott Jimison, Haslet, Texas; Amy and Nick Graham, Highland Park, Texas; Charlie and Debbie Morrison, Keller, Texas; Dan and Kim Wicker, McKinney, Texas; Brian Paulson, Sherman, Texas; Carol Laflamme, Fairfax Station, Virginia; and Jesse and Sabrina Schriner, Sammamish, Washington.

“The KSU Foundation trustees and directors have made an outstanding commitment to boldly advance K-State family,” said Greg Willems, president and CEO of the KSU Foundation. “We thank our trustees — new and returning — for their leadership and dedication to K-State.”

As Kansas State University’s strategic partner for philanthropy, the KSU Foundation inspires and guides philanthropy toward university priorities to boldly advance K-State family. The foundation is leading Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas State University to raise $1.4 billion for student success, faculty development, facility enhancement and programmatic success.

Punit Prakash named to endowed Spainhour professorship

Punit Prakash, Kansas State University associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and Keystone research scholar, has been named recipient of the Paul L. Spainhour Professorship in Electrical Engineering.

Funded by a gift from Paul Spainhour, Overland Park, a 1969 graduate of Kansas State University in electrical engineering, the professorship was established to help attract and retain the highest quality faculty in the department of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering.

Prakash joined the department as an assistant professor in fall 2012, and is also an affiliate of the K-State Johnson Center for Cancer Research. He is the director of the Biomedical Computing and Devices Lab, which he established to focus on developing technologies for enabling precise image-guided medical interventions.

He is currently principal investigator for a five-year study that is expected to lead to a bronchoscopic microwave ablation system for treating lung tumors. The project is funded by a more than $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute.

The author and/or co-author of more than 30 peer-reviewed journal publications and more than 50 conference presentations, he is also co-inventor on two patents — one issued, one pending.

Prakash received a K-State College of Engineering Outstanding Assistant Professor award in 2017, Innovative Research Award from the Johnson Cancer Research Center in 2012 and 2014, and K-State Faculty Development Award in 2012. His research students have received Young Investigator Awards from the Society of Thermal Medicine in 2014, 2015 and 2016.