Data and Analytics, Detection and Diagnostics

Early Warning for Infectious Disease Outbreaks: A Q&A with Larry Madoff

In-Q-Tel, Inc. / IQT Quarterly Winter 2016

The IQT Quarterly recently interviewed Larry Madoff, Editor of The Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases (ProMED-mail). ProMED-mail reports on outbreaks and disease emergence, providing early warning information to a global audience and allowing informed discussions in real time. Mado discussed ProMED’s information dissemination process, the broader community of infectious disease reporting, and the future of outbreak detection and response.

What is ProMED? How did it begin? Who participates?

Founded in 1994, ProMED-mail was intended to harness the Internet in the service of detecting emerging infectious or toxin-mediated diseases, either natural or intentionally caused, that threatened human beings. Its goal is to provide early warning, disseminating information rapidly to a wide audience and allowing informed discussion in real time.

As of 2015, ProMED-mail has 75,000 subscribers in more than 180 countries who receive email reports on outbreaks and disease emergence. Readers can also receive reports via Twitter, Facebook, or an iPhone app. Reports are selected and interpreted by a panel of specialist moderators who provide expert commentary, supply references to previous reports and to the scientific literature, and put the report in perspective for a diverse readership. Reports are simultaneously posted to ProMED’s website. ProMED’s guiding principles include transparency and a commitment to the unfettered flow of outbreak information, freedom from political constraints, availability to all without cost, commitment to the One Health concept (see below), and service to the global health community.

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