Geospatial epidemiologist joins Rutgers Global Health Institute

Ubydul Haque, a geospatial epidemiologist who designs data- and technology-driven solutions for confronting global public health problems, has joined Rutgers Global Health Institute.

Haque, who is an assistant professor of global health at the institute, has a joint appointment as an assistant professor of epidemiology in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at Rutgers School of Public Health.

Haque comes to Rutgers from the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, where he was an assistant professor of biostatistics and epidemiology in the School of Public Health.

Haque investigates factors related to physical space and time that can affect human health. His research has focused on infectious diseases, climate change, conflict and war and natural disasters. Using data from his original research and existing large datasets that are available via public- and private-sector sources, Haque creates mathematical algorithms and forecasting models for infectious disease outbreaks and climate-related hazards that can be applied in public health. He also uses socioeconomic data, such as information about income, education and employment, to incorporate factors that influence health.

“Unprecedented advances in technology have led to a proliferation of rich data that can be harnessed through the use of quantitative tools and then leveraged to improve public health management,” Haque said. “I’m focused on using such ‘Big Data’ for the public good, to better understand global health dynamics and, ultimately, to develop highly targeted ways for communities to address their specific health-related needs.”

Through this research, Haque supports the development of targeted interventions that can be applied in resource-efficient ways in vulnerable communities throughout the world. He is conducting studies in Brazil, Colombia, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine.

Haque’s expertise includes using artificial intelligence to evaluate applications of machine-learning models in public health.

In Malaysia, Haque is developing an agile dengue outbreak response system that could perform more effectively than human-based notification systems.

Other public health topics that Haque investigates through a geospatial epidemiology lens include urban landslides and humanitarian crises. His recent paper, “The human toll and humanitarian crisis of the Russia-Ukraine war: the first 162 days,” published in BMJ Global Health, describes how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has impacted the country’s health. The study tracked direct deaths and injuries in Ukraine, the impact of damage to Ukraine’s health care infrastructure and the war’s impact on public health, including the destruction of homes, buildings, roads, power supplies, communication systems and utility services.