Our lab is dedicated to improving society’s ability to prepare for, manage, and heal from infectious disease outbreaks using mathematical models, statistical inference, and digital technology.

Research interests

Linking within- and between-host pathogen dynamics

Epidemics are self-similar across multiple scales: the rise and fall of cases during an outbreak are mirrored by the rise and fall of viral load during an infection. To control epidemics, we need to understand how within-host pathogen dynamics translate into between-host transmission events. We develop adaptive experimental designs and statistical approaches to infer viral kinetics and their relationship with contagiousness, lending insights into outbreak dynamics, optimal epidemic control, and the fundamental characteristics of viruses themselves.

Connecting interpersonal contact networks and mobility with disease transmission

Pathogens have only limited power over their own ability to spread; the rest is up to the structure of our communities. Human interactions are unbelievably complex, and this complexity can give rise to unexpected patterns of viral transmission and evolution. We seek to understand this relationship between human behavior and pathogen transmission by measuring critical contact network structures and modeling the behavior of pathogens as they spread through highly structured, dynamic populations.

Mapping the ecology of co-circulating respiratory pathogens

Pathogens rarely spread in an ecological vacuum. Instead, microbes must jockey for a foothold against both related strains and unrelated species, all while their hosts try to inhibit their spread. The co-circulation of pathogens poses a major public health challenge, since every pathogen features distinct transmission and disease characteristics. However, it also opens potential opportunities, where well-placed resources can be optimally distributed to monitor and control the spread of many pathogens at once. We study the ecological relationships between respiratory pathogens, paying special attention to the perturbations in transmission that were brought on by behavioral changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using mathematical models, we infer immunological and environmental factors that influence the joint transmission of respiratory pathogens and design strategies for their optimal surveillance and control.

Selected Publications

In prep, submitted, in press

  1. The impact of immune history and variant on SARS-CoV-2 viral kinetics and infection rebound
    James A. Hay*, Stephen M. Kissler*, Joseph R. Fauver*, Christina Mack*, Caroline G. Tai, Radhika M. Samant, Sarah Connolly, Deverick J. Anderson, Gaurav Khullar, Matthew MacKay, Miral Patel, Shannan Kelly, April Manhertz, Isaac Eiter, Daisy Salgado, Tim Baker, Ben Howard, Joel T. Dudley, Christopher E. Mason, Manoj Nair, Yaoxing Huang, David D. Ho, Nathan D. Grubaugh, Yonatan H. Grad. medRxiv (2022) 10.1101/2022.01.13.22269257
  2. Prescribing of antibiotics and other drugs to children from birth to age 5 in the United States: an observational study
    Stephen M. Kissler, Bill Wang, Ateev Mehrotra, Michael Barnett, Yonatan H. Grad. medRxiv (2021) 10.1101/2021.11.17.21266458
  3. Drivers of racial/ethnic disparities in antibiotic consumption in the United States
    Stephen M. Kissler*, Scott W. Olesen*, Sanjat Kanjilal, Daphne S. Sun, Yonatan H. Grad. medRxiv (2022) 10.1101/2021.12.09.21266965

Peer-reviewed publications

  1. Viral dynamics of acute SARS-CoV-2 infection and applications to diagnostic and public health strategies
    Stephen M. Kissler*, Joseph Fauver*, Christina Mack*, Caroline Tai, Mallery Breban, Anne E. Watkins, Radhika Samant, Deverick Anderson, Jessica Metti, Gaurav Khullar, Rachel Baits, Matthew MacKay, Daisy Salgado, Tim Baker, Joel T. Dudley, Christopher E. Mason, David Ho, Nathan D Grubaugh, Yonatan Grad. PLOS Biology (2021) 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001333
  2. Waning Immunity and the Second Wave: Some Projections for SARS-CoV-2
    Chryssi Giannitsarou, Stephen M. Kissler, Flavio Toxvaerd. American Economic Review: Insights (2021) 10.1257/aeri.20200343
  3. Childhood respiratory outpatient visits correlate with socioeconomic status and drive geographic patterns in antibiotic prescribing
    Stephen M. Kissler, R. Monina Klevens, Michael Barnett, Yonatan H. Grad. Journal of Infectious Diseases (2021) 10.1093/infdis/jiab218
  4. Reduction in antibiotic prescribing attainable with a gonococcal vaccine
    Stephen M. Kissler*, Moriah Mitchell*, Yonatan H. Grad. Clinical Infectious Diseases (2021) 10.1093/cid/ciab276
  5. Model-informed COVID-19 vaccine prioritization strategies by age and serostatus
    Kate M. Bubar, Kyle Reinholt, Stephen M. Kissler, Marc Lipsitch, Sarah Cobey, Yonatan H. Grad, Daniel Larremore. Science (2021) 10.1126/science.abe6959
  6. Projecting the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 through the post-pandemic period
    Stephen M. Kissler*, Christine Tedijanto*, Edward Goldstein, Yonatan H. Grad, Marc Lipsitch. Science (2020) 10.1126/science.abb5793
  7. Reductions in commuting mobility are correlated with geographic differences in SARS-CoV-2 prevalence in New York City
    Stephen M. Kissler*, Nishant Kishore*, Malavika Prabhu, Dena Goffman, Yaakov Beilin, Ruth Landau, Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman, Brian T. Bateman, Jon Snyder, Armin S. Razavi, Daniel Katz, Jonathan Gal, Angela Bianco, Joanne Stone, Daniel Larremore, Caroline O. Buckee, Yonatan H. Grad. Nature Communications (2020) 10.1038/s41467-020-18271-5
  8. Distinguishing the roles of antibiotic stewardship and reductions in outpatient visits in generating a five-year decline in antibiotic prescribing
    Stephen M. Kissler, R. Monina Klevens, Michael L. Barnett, Yonatan H. Grad. Clinical Infectious Diseases (2020) 10.1093/cid/ciaa269
  9. Symbolic transfer entropy reveals the age structure of pandemic influenza transmission from high-volume influenza-like illness data
    Stephen M. Kissler, Cecile Viboud, Bryan Grenfell, Julia Gog. J Roy Soc Interface (2020) 10.1098/rsif.2019.0628
  10. Surveillance to maintain the sensitivity of genotype-based antibiotic resistance diagnostics
    Allison L. Hicks, Stephen M. Kissler, Marc Lipsitch, Yonatan H. Grad. Plos Biology (2019) 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000547
  11. Geographic transmission hubs of the 2009 influenza pandemic in the United States
    Stephen M. Kissler, Julia R. Gog, Cécile Viboud, Vivek Charu, Ottar N. Bjørnstad, Lone Simonsen, Bryan T. Grenfell. Epidemics (2018) 10.1016/j.epidem.2018.10.002
  12. Urbanization and humidity shape the intensity of influenza epidemics in U.S. cities
    Benjamin D. Dalziel, Stephen Kissler, Julia R. Gog, Cecile Viboud, Ottar N. Bjørnstad, C. Jessica E. Metcalf, Bryan T. Grenfell. Science (2018) 10.1126/science.aat6030
  13. Contagion! The BBC Four Pandemic — the model behind the documentary
    Petra Klepac, Stephen Kissler, Julia Gog. Epidemics (2018) 10.1016/j.epidem.2018.03.003
  14. Determination of personalized diabetes treatment plans using a two-delay model
    Stephen M. Kissler, Cody Cichowitz, Sriram Sankaranarayanan, and David M. Bortz. Journal of Theoretical Biology (2014) 10.1016/j.jtbi.2014.06.005
* denotes equal contribution

Other publications

  1. Let’s finally get COVID-19 testing right
    Stephen Kissler. The Hill (2021)
  2. If control measures are stopping flu in its tracks, why aren’t they stopping coronavirus?
    Stephen Kissler. The Conversation (2021)
  3. Counting
    Stephen Kissler. Harvard Public Health Magazine (2020)
  4. Coronavirus: does the common cold protect you from COVID?
    Stephen Kissler. The Conversation (2020)
  5. Will flu or cold viruses push the new coronavirus out of circulation this winter?
    Stephen Kissler. The Conversation (2020)
  6. Making Hepatitis C a rare disease in the United States
    Victor Roy, Dave Chokshi, Stephen Kissler, and Prabhjot Singh. Health Affairs Forefront (2016) 10.1377/forefront.20160615.055364