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UNO, UNMC team wins award from DARPA for chikungunya research

May 13, 2015

A team of UNO and UNMC researchers has received an award from DARPA for their work on a strategy to prevent the spread of a mosquito-borne illness.

The team worked on a method for how to track the spread of the chikungunya virus. Four cases of the illness, which causes fever and severe joint pain, were reported in Nebraska last year. Their work used an existing model which groups populations by disease susceptibility levels.

Dr. Steven Hinrichs, UNMC’s chairman of Pathology and Microbiology and a team member, says other factors were then used to determine who’s most vulnerable.

"The idea is to identify the data sources that are most predictive of an increase in disease, so we can prepare ourselves. So the idea is to determine whether or not it’s the amount of rain, whether it’s the temperature, whether it’s the amount of travel, and a number of other factors that might contribute to the spread of this disease."

UNMC and UNO’s team was one of 466 groups competing for the best-proposed method to track chikungunya. They won a $10,000 prize from DARPA.