Our paper on waves, plateaus, and endemic transition in COVID-19 epidemic is published in eLife

See UIUC Physics Department press release and The Atlantic magazine article.  In (eLife 2021) we developed a new epidemiological model that encompasses randomness and dynamic variability of individual social interactions and used it to explain COVID-19 waves in US between July 2020 and March 2021.

Our eLife research editor was Mark Lipsitch, Harvard epidemiologist and the director of science in the newly formed Disease Forecasting Center at CDC. In his editorial statement, he wrote: “This is an excellent and elegant example of what theory can do at its best in epidemiology: it takes a widely observed phenomenon that is an ‘”embarrassment’” (my word) to current theories; proposes a parsimonious explanation that is plausible for the phenomenon by extending the existing theories in a specific way; and makes a plausible case for the importance of the mechanism in explaining key features of the data. In this case, the embarrassing phenomenon is long periods of very slowly changing incidence/prevalence, and the modification to theory is incorporation of dynamic social heterogeneity. This should stimulate much further work in the field. Congratulations to the authors.”

Our paper on emergence of complementary resource preferences in diauxic microbial communities is published in Nature Communications!

See IGB press release.

We studied population dynamics (Nat Comm 2021 Nov) in a community of microbes sequentially utilizing resources (diauxie) in the order determined by each species regulatory network. Such communities realized both in serial dilution experiments, as well as in naturally occurring boom-and-bust cycles (e.g., in the upper ocean microbiome of temperate regions).

Sergei is honored with the Presidential Medallion

In a ceremony attended by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Sergei Maslov was among 30 key leaders of the University of Illinois COVID-19 response team honored with the Presidential Medallion. This medallion is the highest honor that the U of I  system president can bestow. Among others, it was previously awarded to Arthur Clarke, Thomas M. Siebel, and David W. Grainger.

Left to right: Prof. Mark Anastasio (BIOE Department Chair), Prof. Sergei Maslov, Prof. Andreas Cangellaris (UIUC Provost), Prof. Rashid Bashir (Dean, Grainger College of Engineering)


Our paper on transient collective immunity in COVID-19 is published in PNAS

Our new paper was just published as a direct submission in PNAS and covered in this press release.  Here we introduce the concept of  “transient collective immunity” and argue that it described COVID-19 epidemics better than a more familiar concept of “herd immunity”. The main difference between these two concepts is that transient collective immunity is not expected to last forever. This is similar to the transient nature of biological immunity caused by decreasing antibody counts and the emergence of new variants. However, in our case, this “expiration date” is caused entirely by changes in levels of individual social activity.