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University of Idaho receives $11 million grant for biomedical research modeling

Posted at 7:55 AM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-24 09:47:54-04

MOSCOW, Idaho — The University of Idaho's Institute of Modeling Collaboration and Innovation received a nearly $11 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

“I was pretty happy," said U of I Distinguished Professor and Director od IMCI, Holly Wichman. "Without this, we would have not been able to maintain this wonderful core facility.”

Their modeling uses mathematical formulas to replicate and predict real-world behavior.

This fund will help continue their research on biomedical imaging of breast cancer, the genomics of breast cancer and human microbiome research.

“Our goal really is to make Idaho more competitive in terms of biomedical research and to do modeling that really helps the state and the nation,” said Wichman.

Along with this grant the IMCI received a supplemental $492,000 grant to fund COVID-19 modeling for rural communities in Idaho.

“We have been helping the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare help make predictions of COVID. We take the data that is available and predict the trajectory of things using an SRI model,” she said.

The institute is also using the funds to develop what they call an agent-based model.

“To look at social behavior in communities which is what we hope to apply to the rural communities and we are just gearing up to do a big survey of rural communities in Idaho,” said Wichman.

This information will then be used to make predictions and keep track of COVID-19, as well as give advice to people in rural communities in Idaho.

“Our teams see rural modeling and advice for rural communities as a real need because all of the models have focused mostly on cities, big metropolitan cities, and that makes sense because those are the places that get hit first," said Wichman. "But that doesn’t mean that rural communities aren't hit and we’ve seen that a lot with agricultural workers getting hit, meatpacking plants getting hit and other things in rural communities as well."

Holly said that nearly every college at the U of I uses modeling through their institute because it allows them to explore all solutions to a problem.

To learn more about their grant, or the modeling the team is doing, click here.