INFORMS NEWS: CDC, Georgia Tech, Emory team up to win Wagner Prize

Eva Lee, Georgia Tech.

Eva Lee, Georgia Tech.

A team comprised of researchers from the Centers for Disease Control, Georgia Tech and Emory University received the 2015 Daniel H. Wagner Prize for creating a model that uses genetic signatures to predict the efficacy of vaccines on an individual-by-individual basis. The winner was announced at the 2015 INFORMS Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

The prize-winning work, “Machine Learning Framework for Predicting Vaccine Immunogenicity,” was conducted and co-authored by Eva K. Lee and Fan Yuan of Georgia Tech, Bali Pulendran and Helder Nakaya of Emory University and Ferdinand Pietz and Bernard Benecke of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Eva Lee is a Fellow and longtime member of INFORMS.

The ability to better predict how different individuals will respond to vaccination and to understand what best protects them from infection marks an important advance in developing next-generation vaccines. It facilitates the rapid design and evaluation of new and emerging vaccines. It also identifies individuals unlikely to benefit from the vaccine.

The authors created a general-purpose machine-learning framework, called DAMIP, for discovering gene signatures that can predict vaccine immunity and efficacy.

Using DAMIP, implemented results for yellow fever demonstrated that, for the first time, a vaccine’s ability to immunize a patient could be successfully predicted with greater than 90 percent accuracy within a week after vaccination. A gene identified by DAMIP decrypted a seven-decade-old mystery of vaccination. Results for flu vaccine demonstrated DAMIP’s applicability to both live-attenuated and inactivated vaccines. Similar results in a malaria study enabled targeted delivery to individual patients.

The project guides the rapid development of better vaccines to fight emerging infections and improve monitoring for poor responses in the elderly, infants and those with weakened immune systems. The project’s work is expected to help design a universal flu vaccine.

The Daniel H. Wagner Prize for Excellence in Operations Research Practice emphasizes the quality and coherence of the analysis used in the practice of operations research and analytics. This prize recognizes those principles by emphasizing good writing, strong analytical content and verifiable practice successes.

The other four finalists for the 2015 Wagner Prize included:

  • “Integrated Planning of Multi-type Locomotive Service Facilities under Location, Routing and Inventory Considerations,” by Kamalesh Somani and Jing Huang, CSX Transportation, and Xi Chen, Yanfeng Ouyang, Zhaodong Wang and Siyang Xie, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • “Scheduling Crash Tests at Ford Motor Company,” by Daniel Reich, Ellen Barnes and Erica Klampfl, Ford Motor Company, and Marina Epelman, Amy Cohn and Yuhui Shi, University of Michigan
  • Strategic Re-design of Urban Mail and Parcel Networks at La Poste,” by Stefan Spinler, WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management, Matthias Winkenbach, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Alain Roset, La Poste
  • “Using Analytics to Enhance Shelf Space Management in a Food Retailer,” by Teresa Bianchi de Aguiar, Maria Antónia Carravilla, Luis Guimarães, José Oliveira and Elsa Silva, University of Porto, and Jorge Liz, João Günther Amaral and Sérgio Lapela, Sonae MC