A research project designed to help answer basic questions about the spread of COVID-19 and co-led by UCLA faculty has received a $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

One of the co-leaders of the project is Marc Suchard, professor of biostatistics, biomathematics, and human genetics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Suchard is the senior developer of an open-source software program that’s used by more than 1,000 research groups worldwide to understand, on a genomic level, how infectious diseases spread. 

“Through the creation of new, scalable statistical models, we’ll be able to more clearly identify the factors that affect viral transmission and virulence for SARS-CoV-2,” Suchard said. “Not only will this allow us to understand whether certain public health measures are working, but it also will help predict how the disease could spread under different circumstances.”

At its highest level, the project seeks to make complex information easier to understand, revealing patterns that would otherwise go unnoticed. By fostering a greater understanding of the virus among researchers and the public, the team hopes that governments around the world can improve their response to the COVID-19 pandemic and minimize future outbreaks.

Read the full news release.