The recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa reminded us that the world is ill-prepared for a severe disease epidemic or for any similar global sustained public emergency. The risk of future global severe infectious disease outbreaks in an increasingly connected world is greater than ever. In the developing world, for example, accelerated urbanization has concentrated a non-immune population in settings where high infectious disease vectors and population densities, the main factors contributing to increased disease transmission, are present. Because of these local severe disease risks coupled with our global interconnectedness through transportation, increasing migration, tourism and trade, infectious diseases emerge and re-emerge more frequently; spread greater distances; pass more easily between humans and animals; and evolve into new and more virulent strains.
We plan a workshop devoted to examining how past severe disease outbreaks were contained while reviewing the world's response to these epidemics. It will explore how mathematical models can be used to understand and forecast disease transmission dynamics and to evaluate the effect of different interventions and changing on-the-ground conditions on epidemiological outcomes. The workshop will concentrate on the responses to the recent Ebola outbreak, while gaining insight from responses to HIV/AIDS and other epidemics by public health systems within individual countries. It will also explore epidemiology of the diseases in humans and animals; economic and political fallout from these epidemics; quarantine laws and other public health measures that apply to combating infectious diseases; and the role of international organizations and scientific cooperation in halting the spread of these epidemics.
The workshop will bring together public health officials as well as mathematicians, biologists, ecologists and epidemiologists from both the US and Africa to identify important modeling issues and to establish new collaborations on what might be needed in order to contain any future outbreaks of Ebola and other emerging or re-emerging severe infectious diseases while treating illnesses associated with the disease before they become a public health emergency.
The goals of the workshop are to:
The workshop will be a satellite workshop to the Next Einstein Forum (NEF), which is scheduled for March 8-10, 2016 in Dakar, Senegal, and hosted by President H.E. Macky Sall of Senegal. NEF takes place in the context of "a new global economic and scientific landscape" that "is emerging, with Africa's rapid transformation driven by the power of demographics, economic growth and political will. Science, technology and innovation are driving this process." NEF will serve as a global forum to highlight "where science can meet society, the media and policy-makers." NEF participants will include "leading scientists, policy-makers, business people, journalists, civil-society representatives and entrepreneurs", who "will highlight breakthrough discoveries and catalyze scientific collaboration for human development." 
In this context, we plan a 2-day satellite workshop on March 6-7 that will precede NEF and focus on a critical US-African dialogue on the importance of infectious disease modeling for informing public health preparedness strategies for future large scale disease outbreaks like the 2014/15 Ebola outbreak. Locating this workshop as a satellite of NEF gives it great visibility and the opportunity to attract leading US and African scientists, and to give them the opportunity to participate in NEF itself, thus engaging with a broad spectrum of planetary leaders concerned with problems and opportunities surrounding the rapid changes in Africa.
Because of the importance of local engagement in making workshops in foreign countries succeed, we plan a mini-symposium at the University Cheikh anta Diop of Dakar, we will organize for March 5, thus offering participants in our program the opportunity for engagement with the local faculty in all disciplines relevant to the workshop.