Dr. Andrew Huff, an alumnus of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, is investigator on a $4.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Dr. Huff is a Senior Research Scientist at EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit organization that focuses on conservation and global health issues.
The grant was awarded to continue the development of the Global Rapid Identification Tool System (GRITS), a software program that is designed to monitor early-warning signals from a possible emerging infectious disease outbreak. The software is being developed in partnership with ProMED and the International Society for Infectious Disease.
Environmental change to the global landscape increases the risk of emerging zoonotic pathogens. With a multitude of news, social media, and existing biosurveillance systems, it is increasingly difficult to digest all of the available information to monitor possible disease threats. GRITS analyzes textual data sources by identifying, extracting, and visualizing critical public health information and suggesting possible associated infectious diseases. GRITS enables infectious disease analysts to monitor emerging patterns that could point to new infectious disease outbreaks. “GRITS is an open source technology that is going to change how ‘One Health’ disease surveillance is conducted into the foreseeable future,” said Dr. Huff.