Contagion & Networks

Progress and Issues with Models and Data
Satellite symposium, second edition @ NetSci2018
June 11 2018, Paris, France

Contagion & Networks

Satellite symposium, second edition @ NetSci2018
June 11 2018, Paris, France

Progress and issues with epidemiological models and data

The dynamics of contagion (e.g., the spread of ideas and diseases between individuals) are shaped by the networked structure of host populations. Whether the contagion travels quickly through an effectively static network or moves more slowly and thus encounters spatiotemporal variation in the networked structure itself, as a field, we still lack a definitive framework for translating data into predictions of contagion dynamics. The basic model for contagion spreading on a network is simple: An infectious agent, e.g., a pathogen or an idea, is transmitted from "infectious" individuals to "susceptible" individuals through nearest-neighbor interactions on a contact network. However, some of the most basic assumptions surrounding this simple model have been challenged in recent years. The focus of our satellite will be on these recent challenges and on persistent issues in modeling the dynamics of contagion on networks:

  1. 1. It is unclear whether macroscopic invasions emerge continuously or discontinuously as contagion transmissibility increases;
    • a) threshold levels of transmission or social reinforcement leads to discontinuous transitions [1];
    • b) interacting epidemics can emerge continuously or discontinuously [2,3];
    • c) adaptive social networks can also cause the discontinuous emergence of contagions [4].

  2. 2. Only recently did we start developing robust models for epidemics on temporal networks, and we have yet to reach a consensus on the correct mathematical approach [5].

  3. 3. Interventions and network properties designed to hinder contagions can actually hasten their spread:
    • a) network clustering slows down simple diseases in isolation but can accelerate synergistic epidemics [6];
    • b) replacing sick workers can also cause a disease spread to be super-exponential [4].

  4. 4. Zika virus highlights the importance of asymmetric transmission and of mixed routes of transmission (i.e., through a mosquito vector and through sex), and the consequences of which are not fully understood [7,8].

  5. 5. No model has yet to produce actionable predictions implementing the interaction of human behavior and contagions.
Additionally, the complex network methodology has been shown useful to shed new lights on long-standing healthrelated challenges, for example:

  1. 6. Ecology of poverty, explaining how network effects play an important role in shaping poverty and population health [9].

  2. 7. Network Medicine, which is the application of network theory to the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases based on biological networks [10].
Combined, these recent advances and new applications illustrate how quickly the field is developing and how many challenging scientific questions still exist. Despite new models being continually published, there has been little consensus or synthesis about the correct tools and their practical role in supporting public health decision making. We invite the researchers of all backgrounds to contribute to this satellite and thus to engage in interdisciplinary discussions on the status and future of this rapidly diversifying and expanding field.

Related satellites

Three other epidemiology-related satellite symposia are held at NetSci2018. Their themes are complementary to the ones covered at Contagion & Networks and there is no schedule overlap.

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Important dates

March 15, 2018: Satellite abstract submission deadline
April 1, 2018: Acceptance notifications
April 10, 2018: NetSci early registration deadline
June 11, 2018: Satellite symposium

Invited speakers

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Joel C. Miller

Institute for Disease Modeling

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Coming soon

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Coming soon

Call for abstracts

We invite abstracts of new and/or recently published work for contributed talks to take place at the satellite symposium. We hope for a broad range of topics to be covered, across theory, methodology, and application to empirical data. Topics of special interest, as they relate to contagion, include:

  • –Interacting contagions
  • –Temporal networks
  • –Novel physics of spreading
  • –Multiplex networks
  • –Memes
  • –Emerging infectious diseases
  • –Prediction
  • –Behavior
  • –Data collection
The deadline for abstract submission is March 15, 2018, and acceptance notifications will be sent April 1st, 2018.

All participants are required to be registred at the main conference. Abstract submission will be handled by EasyChair and is free of charge. There is no word limit on abstracts but please limit their length to one page, including title, authors, equations, figure(s), etc. All abstracts will be considered for contributed and lightning talks (please indicate if you have a preference); there will be no posters.

Registration Submit an abstract


Will be available a few weeks prior to the satellite.


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Antoine Allard

Universitat de Barcelona

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Benjamin M. Althouse

Institute for Disease Modeling

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Laurent Hébert-Dufresne

University of Vermont

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Samuel V. Scarpino

Network Science Institute