Public Dissemination and Education (PDE) Working Group

This working group was formed in 2017 after the 10th IMAG-MSM Anniversary (Main Agenda) with the primary goal of expanding the visibilty of multi-scale modeling to the general public and to the non-modeling biomedical research community. We strive to implement and manage activities that increase communications and interactions with stakeholders who are currently outside the MSM community through model sharing, outreach, and educational activities. In order to maintain a strong pipeline for the MSM community, it is important to educate the next generation of MSM community members by targeting students and teachers who are currently in the K-12 classroom. Moreover, activities that increase awareness and appreciation for MSM beyond the MSM community will help to strengthen our community and provide more opportunities for collaborations with researchers who are currently outside the MSM community. 


Shayn Peirce-Cottler, David Basanta, and Silvia Blemker are currenty serving as co-leads for this working group. If you are interested to share your ideas and/or join this working group, please email:

Goals and Objectives

OVERARCHING GOAL: Expand the visibilty of multi-scale modeling to the general public and to the non-modeling biomedical research community.

STAKEHOLDERS: Who are we trying to disseminate to and educate about multiscale modeling?

. high school students and teachers

. college students 

. 1st year graduate students trying to find their way

. more senior grad students and post docs

. faculty

. policy makers

. retirees 



1. Formed LinkedIn Group: "Interagency Modeling and Analysis Group (IMAG)":

2. Hosted inaurgural 2019 "IMAG's NEXT TOP MODEL" Video Competition 

- Submissions were due March 1st, 2019 (four entries recieved)

- Submissions judged by K-12 students (ages 8-18 from four states) according to the following rubric: originality/creativity (20 points), educational value (20 points), comprehensible (20 points), prominently feature multiscale modeling (20 points), highlight the real-world impact of the research (20 points)

- All entries ave been posted on YouTube and NIBIB Main Website:

2019 Winners:

1st place ($200 Amazon Gift Certificate): Modeling the obesity epidemic by Sarah Rebbert from Johns Hopkins

2nd place ($100 Amazon Gift Certificate): Modeling macrophage heterogeneity in Salmonella infection by Lee Talman from Univ. of Virginia and Stanford

2nd place ($50 Amazon Gift Certificate): Modeling the silk integrative theory experiment project by Diego López Barreiro from MIT/Tufts


3. Established a SimTK community website for sharing models for teaching modeling:

IMAG-MSM Public Dissemination & Education Working Group


4. Explored the idea of publishing video manuscripts through JoVE, and they are very welcoming of submissions.


PLANS FOR 2019-2020:

1. Create searchable registry of moldel sharing websites:


2. Make the following updtes to the IMAG Wiki:

a. Have a "SUCCESSES" tab that showcases press releases, etc.

b. Have an "OUTREACH" tab that is a repisitory for outreach activities, videos, experiences, etc.

c. Have a "GRANTS" tab that allows community to have discussion about grants, tabulate data about grant submissions/successes, debunks "myths" 


3. Write popular press or Forbes magazine article about MSM and provide access to editors who help craft messages for lay audience 


4. NEW COMPETITION IDEA!!!!  -->Develop and disseminate educational materials:

. Types of educational material:

          . "1-page "Cheat Sheats" that describe methods

          . Recorded mini-lectures that describe methods and applications 

. Tools for sharing this educational measurements:

      - Basic: YouTube, Vimeo, etc (Free, at most rudimentary interaction and tracking)

      - Intermediate: Kaltura,


(Not free to disseminators or their institutions but can be free to users. Enable interactivity, tracking, grading. Can be used to overlay YouTube content. Playposit requires offline video recording and editing. Kaltura is cloud-based for recording, editing and delivery)

      - Advanced: MOOC Platforms: Udacity, Coursera, edX (Free to students but costly to develop and deploy $4300 per video hour, range $152,000-$244,000 in total)


5. Get more diverse stakeholders to the table:

. Invite K-12 teachers to "join" and attend out meetings

. Incorporate more trainee involvement in IMAG-MSM community


6. Connect more closely with NSF and basic science, DOD, NASA



1. Twitter

- New Twitter presence by Dr. Basanta (#IMAG, @msm2018, -- Thank you, David!

Description: "In order to simulate biology we need to make computer models of processes across scales."


- Handle and Hashtags:

Possible handles (twitter poll!)
















2. Develop a "Skills Guidance Package" for learners at all levels


2018 IMAG-MSM Meeting Suggestions for MSM Dissemination Activities (comments and suggestions before and during the meeting):

  1. Develop a database of multiscale models analogous to PubMed or RefSeq => add lnks to all the existing repositories on the wiki
  2. The MSM Consortium needs to better “sell” the utility of computational modeling to the various institutes of the NIH. Other participating government organizations seem to have a better understanding of the potential utility of modeling in their areas but since the majority of the MSM funding seems to be from the NIH, we need to better sell modeling across the NIH institutions. => help NLM make a repository of models.. we can be an advisory board.  Leverage AIMBE to lobby for the utility of MSMs.  Present how models can help with policy/decision making.  
  3. I would like to see the MSM consortium begin to think about how to educate students (and PIs) in multi-scale modeling. Is everything we do specific to the individual problems and modeling frameworks, or are there some common principles we could start to abstract, articulate, and teach?  => we talked about that in terms of course development, tutorials, etc.  LInks to materials out there .. Steering committee has been discussing creation of tutorials; do we have common format or quality control?  Or let the community deal with it? is a common place for storying lectures and tutorials.  could we publish an opensurce textbook as a community?   It shouldn't be too hard for us to put a course together!  Use webinar functionality of IMAG to make the tutorials.  We need to put together a syllabus.  
  4. Some of our group has been funded by the MSM mechanism since the origin of the program. We wonder if there is a better way to archive for tutorial purposes or to communicate findings and approaches, i.e. to share the collective expertise of MSM funded researchers with the next generation of researchers. While there are many wonderful examples of models in published works from the community, and some attempt at a central repository of models, there is little in the way of a higher-level introduction to the field. This could be accomplished via a book and/or summer schools.
  5. MSM should support training and education projects.  yes!  suggest an R25-type mechanism for training grants related to generating resources for a general multi-scale modeling course.  
  6. There are challenges in enabling and encouraging Multiscale Experimental Data Collection that could be a topic of discussion; we can further improve how we share modeling and algorithmic expertise, so we can benefit more from each other’s work.
  7. The MSM consortium ought to focus efforts on making multiscale models understandable and accessible to decision makers.
  8. Develop freely accessible and rigorous didactic/training resources on various MSM methods and illustrative applications
  9. More extensive outreach to the medical and biological communities to demonstrate the value of modeling
Working Group Activities

Join our IMAG-MSM PDE Working Group SimTk Community, and post your models and demonstrations for the broader scientific and non-scientific community!

Programming computer models of biological systems is a fun and powerful way to learn about the complex processes that control human health and disease. For example, computer models can help us better understand how our bodies work, identify the underlying causes of diseases, and identify new therapies to treat and cure diseases. The purpose of this community is to provide examples of biological models that can be used to teach learners of all ages -- from kindergarten through college, and beyond -- how to model biology with computer simulations. This community is managed by the IMAG-MSM's Public Dissemination & Education Working Group.