The urgent nature of epidemic infectious diseases bring specific challenges in disease control. Epidemics can cause immediate health, social and economic impacts, and require complex cross-sectoral and global response as illustrated by the 2014 Ebola epidemic. Travel and globalisation mean that infections spread rapidly around the world, so that global solutions are required for epidemic control. Recent developments in artificially engineered pathogens (dual-use research of concern) pose an added complexity to global biosecurity. Global systems, thinking and capability in biosecurity has lagged behind quantum changes in science, leaving us more vulnerable than ever to infectious diseases epidemics. This Centre addresses critical systems gaps in epidemic control.
The NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence, Integrated Systems for Epidemic Response (ISER) conducts applied systems research, enhances collaboration and builds capacity in health systems research for epidemic control. We bring together experts in field epidemiology and epidemic response, military experts, international law and risk science experts, and government and non-government agencies involved in epidemic response. The ARM Network for epidemic response is central to the CRE, with the co-founders all being part of the CRE. This Centre is international, with partners in Australia, New Zealand, USA, China, Malaysia and Indonesia (including investigators from UNSW, ANU, Monash, University of Texas, University of Otago, CSIRO, Beijing Centers for Disease Control) who work together to solve global problems in epidemic response. A pillar of the CRE is ISER Academy, which is a think-tank and convenor of important dialogue, capacity building and generation of ideas, between all stakeholders and sectors involved in epidemic response. Rapid epidemic intelligence and improved surveillance systems is a focus of ISER, and Zikahack fits within this area of research.