York receives community grant for SARS research

York University is one of four organizations to receive $5,000 each to help fund research projects focused on severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The Community Coalition Concerned about SARS (CCS) awarded the grant to Dr. Jianhong Wu (right), York’s Canada Research Chair in Applied Mathematics.

Leading a multidisciplinary team known as MITACS (Mathematics of Information Technology & Complex Systems), Wu is examining statistical and mathematical methods used to assess SARS outbreaks. Specifically, the MITACS team will develop mathematical models and techniques to track the SARS outbreak from its latency and incubation period to its global spread. Wu’s project Modelling the Impact of Social Networking & Heath Care Setting on Transmission Dynamics and Spatial Spread of SARS focuses on synthesizing statistical and mathematical methods to find the best tool for assessing SARS outbreaks. The project will recommend methods for evaluation of health policies under a variety of outbreak conditions including future contagious diseases.

Mount Sinai Hospital, University Health Network and the University of Toronto also received money from CCS, which held a Tribute Walk at Dundas Square in Toronto this past July to raise money for SARS research.

“Even though SARS is now over, we still have to make every precaution to prevent it from coming back,” said Dr. Ming Tat Cheung, convenor of the coalition. “Investing in SARS research is the best way to get ourselves prepared. All of these four research projects have their unique features – from identifying its causes, tracking its outbreak, studying its control to examining the current health care system in relation to future contagious diseases, and managing long-term psychological distress of SARS victims.”