An open challenge to advance probabilistic forecasting for dengue epidemics

Michael A. Johansson, Karyn M. Apfeldorf, Scott Dobson, Jason Devita, Anna L. Buczak, Benjamin Baugher, Linda J. Moniz, Thomas Bagley, Steven M. Babin, Erhan Guven, Teresa K. Yamana, Jeffrey Shaman, Terry Moschou, Nick Lothian, Aaron Lane, Grant Osborne, Gao Jiang, Logan C. Brooks, David C. Farrow, Sangwon HyunRyan J. Tibshirani, Roni Rosenfeld, Justin Lessler, Nicholas G. Reich, Derek A.T. Cummings, Stephen A. Lauer, Sean M. Moore, Hannah E. Clapham, Rachel Lowe, Trevor C. Bailey, Markel García-Díez, Marilia Sá Carvalho, Xavier Rodó, Tridip Sardar, Richard Paul, Evan L. Ray, Krzysztof Sakrejda, Alexandria C. Brown, Xi Meng, Osonde Osoba, Raffaele Vardavas, David Manheim, Melinda Moore, Dhananjai M. Rao, Travis C. Porco, Sarah Ackley, Fengchen Liu, Lee Worden, Matteo Convertino, Yang Liu, Abraham Reddy, Eloy Ortiz, Jorge Rivero, Humberto Brito, Alicia Juarrero, Leah R. Johnson, Robert B. Gramacy, Jeremy M. Cohen, Erin A. Mordecai, Courtney C. Murdock, Jason R. Rohr, Sadie J. Ryan, Anna M. Stewart-Ibarra, Daniel P. Weikel, Antarpreet Jutla, Rakibul Khan, Marissa Poultney, Rita R. Colwell, Brenda Rivera-García, Christopher M. Barker, Jesse E. Bell, Matthew Biggerstaff, David Swerdlow, Luis Mier-Y-Teran-Romero, Brett M. Forshey, Juli Trtanj, Jason Asher, Matt Clay, Harold S. Margolis, Andrew M. Hebbeler, Dylan George, Jean Paul Chretien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


A wide range of research has promised new tools for forecasting infectious disease dynamics, but little of that research is currently being applied in practice, because tools do not address key public health needs, do not produce probabilistic forecasts, have not been evaluated on external data, or do not provide sufficient forecast skill to be useful. We developed an open collaborative forecasting challenge to assess probabilistic forecasts for seasonal epidemics of dengue, a major global public health problem. Sixteen teams used a variety of methods and data to generate forecasts for 3 epidemiological targets (peak incidence, the week of the peak, and total incidence) over 8 dengue seasons in Iquitos, Peru and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Forecast skill was highly variable across teams and targets. While numerous forecasts showed high skill for midseason situational awareness, early season skill was low, and skill was generally lowest for high incidence seasons, those for which forecasts would be most valuable. A comparison of modeling approaches revealed that average forecast skill was lower for models including biologically meaningful data and mechanisms and that both multimodel and multiteam ensemble forecasts consistently outperformed individual model forecasts. Leveraging these insights, data, and the forecasting framework will be critical to improve forecast skill and the application of forecasts in real time for epidemic preparedness and response. Moreover, key components of this project-integration with public health needs, a common forecasting framework, shared and standardized data, and open participation-can help advance infectious disease forecasting beyond dengue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24268-24274
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number48
StatePublished - Nov 26 2019


  • Dengue
  • Epidemic
  • Forecast
  • Peru
  • Puerto Rico

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'An open challenge to advance probabilistic forecasting for dengue epidemics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this