When facing a pandemic or other health threat, public health decision makers have a host of what-ifs to consider. What if we run out of hospital beds? What if we close schools or workplaces? What if the virus mutates?

Dr. Bruce Lee, assistant professor of medicine, epidemiology, and biomedical informatics at the University of Pittsburgh, provided an unusual service during the last H1N1 outbreak. Embedded at the US Department of Health and Human Services, Lee was on call to model...

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