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Disease & Disaster Preparedness

Abstract representation of flow charts

The Weill Cornell Medicine Institute for Disease and Disaster Preparedness (IDDP), co-directed Drs. Nathaniel Hupert and Jack Muckstadt, grew out of many years of collaborative work involving a range of academic specialties related to preparation for and response to natural and man-made disasters and disease epidemics.

IDDP efforts advance research and education in the field of public health response logistics, the systematic study of physical and human infrastructures, materials and supplies, transport resources, information and communication systems, business processes, decision support systems and command and control systems required to respond quickly and appropriately to health crises.

Interlinked Goals

  • Primary research through theoretical modeling, model validation activities and development of decision support tools for improved health system response to pressing threats including pandemic influenza, bioterrorism and emerging infections such as the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
  • Education of the nation's next generation of engineers and public health practitioners and researchers, with combined expertise in both the quantitative techniques of operations research (simulation, mathematical modeling and statistical analysis) and the applied field of public health system research
  • Outreach to end-users, including hospitals, health systems, federal, state, regional and local public health officials, insurance and risk management entities, data integrators and information system developers capable of translating pilot projects into widely available decision support tools

As founding participants of the University of British Columbia World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Complexity Science for Health Systems, IDDP faculty members integrate research activities from several academic disciplines, with a proven track record of creating public health and disaster response logistics solutions for business and government. In the public health realm, IDDP faculty members have made a material impact on domestic bioterrorism and public health emergency preparedness at the federal, state and local levels. Weill Cornell Medicine is one of only a handful of academic medical institutions with researchers contributing to scenario development and health system modeling at the highest levels of the U.S. executive branch.

IDDP Research Background and Directions

Research related to the logistics of disease and disaster preparedness and response includes a broad range of topics. While the majority of IDDP research concerns emergency response logistics for events arising within the United States, we have also addressed logistics issues related to pandemics and diseases found elsewhere, including the scale-up of antiretroviral therapy for people with AIDS in limited-resource settings. IDDP faculty members also enjoy a significant amount of experience underwriting public health system informatics research.

Over the past two decades, Weill Cornell Medicine researchers have made important contributions to the science of public health response logistics. Dr. Nathaniel Hupert and his team initiated this work at the turn of the millennium, in collaboration with the NYC Office of Emergency Management and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, with the first simulation modeling of bioterrorism response plans for New York City. This work led to the Point of Dispensing (POD) concept, which subsequently became a cornerstone of U.S. bioterrorism response policy.

Major Weill Cornell Medicine Public Health Response Logistics Models and Reports
DateModel NameClientDevelopment Lead
2002Weill Cornell Medicine Bioterrorism and Epidemic Outbreak ResponseU.S. Health & Human Services (HHS), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)N. Hupert
2004Community-Based Mass Prophylaxis: A Planning Guide for Public Health PreparednessU.S. HHS AHRQN. Hupert, J. Cuomo and S. Morse
2004-09Regional Hospital Caseload CalculatorU.S. HHS AHRQN. Hupert, J. Cuomo and D. Wattson
2005Hospital Surge Capacity Optimization and Utilization ToolU.S. HHS AHRQN. Hupert and D. Wattson
2005-07Catastrophic Patient AllocationU.S. HHS AHRQJ. Muckstadt, S. Chinchalkar, N. Hupert and W. Xiong
2006SurgeU.S. HHS AHRQN. Hupert and J. Muckstadt
2006Triage and Surge Capacity Tool (TriSCT)U.S. HHS AHRQ and Columbia University National Center for Disaster PreparednessN. Hupert, E. Hollingsworth and W. Xiong
2006-07Stochastic Simulation of Health System Response to Large-Scale EpidemicsJ. Muckstadt, D. Murray, P. Jackson, W. Xiong, E. Hollingsworth and N. Hupert
2007LabModClinton Foundation HIV/AIDS InitiativeW. Xiong, E. Hollingsworth and N. Hupert
2007Hospital Self-ProphylaxisNewYork-Presbyterian HospitalW. Xiong, E. Hollingsworth, N. Hupert, J. Muckstadt, J. Vorenkamp and E. Lazar
2007Stochastic HIV/AIDS Treatment Scale-Up in Sub-Saharan AfricaClinton Foundation HIV/AIDS InitiativeJ. Muckstadt, M. Al-Gwaiz, W. Xiong, K. King, E. Hollingsworth and N. Hupert
2008-09Hospital Preparedness Exercises Guidebook; Pocket Guide and Atlas of Resources and ToolsU.S. HHS AHRQM. Cheung M, A-T. Vu, D D. Varlese, W. Xiong and N. Hupert
2010-14Pharmaceutical-Based Antiviral Dispensing for Pandemic InfluenzaU.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC)N. Hupert, J. Muckstadt, C. Barnett, R. Chen and K. King

Current IDDP activities include creation of linear programming models of aerosol anthrax spore dissemination events, logistics modeling of point-of-dispensing activities incorporating resupply, determination of efficient coverage to achieve critical workforce protection using prophylactic antibiotics and antivirals, analysis of emergency medical transport and response patterns after Hurricane Sandy and analysis of hospital operations to improve efficiency at high volume. Novel techniques used in these studies have included automated process modeling and complex system graphing.

IDDP Response Logistics Modeling Tools and Reports

Ebola Treatment Unit Daily Census and Patient Tracking Tool Version 1.0 (Sept. 22, 2014)

This spreadsheet tool facilitates daily patient care and data collection in Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs, also called Ebola Treatment Centers). The tool was created by Nathaniel Hupert, M.D., M.P.H., of Weill Cornell Medicine and Lewis Rubinson, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

This Microsoft Excel tool was designed in consultation with (and directly responding to the needs of) clinicians currently on the ground in West Africa. It addresses both the tracking of clinic operational parameters (e.g., delay of receipt of lab tests) and the need for daily patient lists in up to three ETU wards. As there are few or no electronics permitted in the "hot zones" where full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is required, the last three sheets of the workbook provide a printable interface populated with up-to-date results for efficient rounding. This tool helps frontline health care workers assimilate information about patients under their care and facilitate effective treatment for suspected, confirmed and convalescent patients. Its developers are certain that the tool can be improved and they welcome any enhancements.

The following are now freely available:

  1. File spreadsheet tool in "locked" form which prevents inadvertent deletion of formulae and formatting but permits full functionality
  2. An File "unlocked" version with sample fake patient information to illustrate data inputs and outputs as well as to permit viewing of the underlying formulae - we encourage users to hack this version of the spreadsheet to improve its look, feel and functionality; if you would like to manipulate the "locked" version, the password is "EVD".
  3. One-page, printable PDF icon instructions

Note: if users of this tool are willing to share any summarized, non-protected, clinical operational data collected with its use (e.g., length of stay by ward and/or by patient outcome), this will greatly enhance ongoing efforts to accurately forecast upcoming logistical outbreak requirements. Furthermore, if users have the ability to link unit-based patient care to specific quantities of PPE required, provision of that information is valuable for quantitative logistical planning. Please contact Dr. Hupert ( for further information.

Hospital Emergency Preparedness Exercises Guidebook, Pocket Guide, Atlas and PowerPoint Presentation
Bioterrorism and Epidemic Outbreak Response POD Models

Current Research Highlights

Using influenza surveillance networks to estimate state-specific prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in the United States

June 29, 2020

In a new article published in Science Translational Medicine, Dr. Nathaniel Hupert, associate professor of population health sciences and medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, worked with colleagues to show how influenza-like illness (ILI) outpatient surveillance data can be used to estimate the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in the United...

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Face mask on blue background

Epidemic Modeling Crucial in the Fight Against COVID-19 Pandemic

April 14, 2020

Mathematical modeling by Weill Cornell Medicine is helping to guide New York State and New York City leaders as they make decisions that could affect the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Using a tool he created called the Cornell COVID Caseload Calculator C5V, ...

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Dr. Nathaniel Hupert writing on a white board.

Population Health Sciences 402 E. 67th St. New York, NY 10065 Phone: (646) 962-8078

Faculty & Staff

Nathaniel Hupert, M.D., MPH
Nathaniel Hupert , M.D., MPH
  • Associate Professor of Population Health Sciences
  • Associate Professor of Medicine
(646) 962-8045
View Research Profile

Nathaniel Hupert, M.D., M.P.H.
Associate Health Care Policy, Research and Medicine Professor
Institute for Disease and Disaster Preparedness (IDDP)
(646) 962-8045