The launch of the textbook on epidemiology of infectious diseases in museum Boerhaave in Leiden was the event of this autumn. A celebration with a serious undertone, as we noticed the tremendous societal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The launch, also, marked a re-positioning of the services of Driehoek Research Support. These are meanwhile directed explicitly to appropriate, human, management of epidemics. Epidemiological management that urges scientists the more to reproducibility of their research. You will read about the major topics of research reproducibility and epidemiological management here, as addressed by Prof Dr Lex Bouter and Dr Jos Frantzen, respectively, during the book launch.

Research Reproducibility

Prof Bouter mentioned in his keynote lecture some major calls for action in the past twenty years. Prof John Ioannidis of Stanford University initiated the discussion in a seminal publication back in 2005. He posed the statement that most published research findings, in biomedical research, are false. Ian Chalmers and Paul Glasziou indicated a waste of investment in biomedical research up to 85% in 2009. Glenn Begley and Lee Ellis could confirm, reproduce, the leads of 6 out of 53 pre-clinical landmark cancer studies only in 2012. Such unfalsified leads result in both, a waste of funding by inspiring new studies and a violation of ethics by including subjects in consecutive clinical trials. A lack of reproducibility was also indicated in psychology by an Open Science Collaboration in 2015. In 2023, an investigation was published about the reproducibility of studies in, economics, education, psychology, health sciences and bio-medicine in the period 2018-2019. Only 54% of the studies could be replicated. Humanities, natural sciences, and infectious diseases epidemiology were unchartered branches in this investigation.

Lex Bouter also addressed various initiatives to cope with the common lack of reproducibility, e.g., Open Science Community, GO FAIR and ReproducibiliTea. Funders also support the more and more replication studies. Registered Reports are efficacious in coping with selective reporting, which is a major driver of the replication crisis. In Registered Reports, a study set-up is submitted for review before data collection and, if accepted, results are published whether these are positive, or not. The focus of Registered Reports is on quality of the study design rather than the outcome of a study. We see a shift from quality and reproducibility of outcomes of studies to quality and reproducibility of the research process.

Book review

Lex Bouter also presented a first review of ‘Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases: a human view’. He called the book a nuanced one having the following headlines:

  • Broad and reflective;
  • Evolutionary and historical aspects;
  • Interdisciplinary, including social sciences and humanities;
  • Attention for vulnerable groups;
  • Trinity of Body, Mind and Environment;
  • Lessons learned from the COVID-19 epidemic;
  • Trust and trustworthiness;
  • Interaction of researchers and policy makers, which is not an easy one, as Lex mentioned.

You may read more about the book at the website of publisher Brill.

Epidemiological Management

Epidemiology is a trans-disciplinary, scientific, approach to the understanding of diseases at the population level, also taking into account processes at both, the individual and ecosystem level. Epidemiology provides the input for management of epidemics that fits the requirements of a society. Such an input includes the pros and cons of various options to manage an epidemic, which enables well-considered decisions by politicians.

Epidemiological management may go beyond the common disease control. If so, we may call it appropriate, human, management of epidemics. Appropriate, as it is protective with respect to people at relatively high risk, while re-assuring those at relatively low risk that no specific interventions are necessary for them. In terms of diagnostics, it is management that pairs relatively high sensitivity with relatively high specificity. And human, as management needs both, to comply with The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to address the feelings, concerns, of a whole community, as much as possible. Appropriate, human, management of epidemics starts actually before onset of an epidemic by way of investments in, social cohesion, equity in basic health, and societal resilience.

Jos Frantzen auteur textbook-epidemiology infectious diseases

New Website

The website of Driehoek Research Support has been up-dated with respect to the re-positioning of the services of Driehoek Research Support. The synergism between research management and epidemiology is highlighted with respect to supporting appropriate, human, management of epidemics. In addition, we do not direct our services on research and innovation only, but also on education and policymaking in epidemiological management.

Does your research, education, or policymaking, touch on epidemiology in a broad sense? Do you like to have a maximum of return of each of your Euros? Just contact us for, more written information, an informal phone call, or a meeting face to face. We may also provide a short presentation for a larger audience on site. It is up to you!