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Project Group P4: Computational Epidemiology

Dirk Brockmann

Prof. Dr. Dirk Brockmann
Benjamin Maier
Frank Schlosser
Annika Rose
Adrian Zachariae
David Hinrichs
Maria Kawnine
Susanne Gottwald
Olivia Jack
Clara Jongen
Katharina Ledebur
Angelique Burdinski

Prof. Brockmann’s research group at Humboldt University Berlin


Our research focuses on modeling the spread and the dynamics of infectious diseases. For this we develop mathematical models, numerical methods and application-oriented computer simulations of complex phenomena of expansion. In this context, we try to better understand and predict the dynamics of infectious diseases using methods from complexity theory, the theory of complex networks, game theory and theoretical physics in a transdisciplinary approach.

In particular, we are developing quantitative models that support the global spread of new pathogens, such as description and prediction of COVID-19, SARS or Influenza A (H1N1). To do this, it is important to understand the connection between mobility networks and the spatial spread of epidemics, a central element of our research. Our global expansion models take into account the entire global air traffic network, i.e. the yearly air traffic of around 3 billion passengers between more than 4,000 airports.

In addition to prediction of spread, we are concerned with the dynamics of infectious diseases within populations. In this context, we analyse how social contact network structures influence and determine the dynamics of infectious diseases. Using game theoretical methods, we also analyse the influence of decision-making processes, e.g. in the context of vaccination prevention.

The Project Group Modeling of Infectious Diseases is part of the Working Group Complex Biological Systems at the Institute for Theoretical Biology and at the IRI Life Sciences at the HU, which Prof. Brockmann is leading.

Date: 21.07.2020


  • Maier BF, Brockmann D (2020): Effective containment explains subexponential growth in recent confirmed COVID-19 cases in China.
    Science 368 (6492): 742-746. Epub Apr 8. doi: 10.1126/science.abb4557. more

  • Helbing D, Brockmann D et al. (2015): Saving human lives: what complexity science and information systems can contribute
    J. Stat. Physics 158 (3): 735-781. Epub 2014 Jun 6. doi: 10.1007/s10955-014-1024-9. more

  • Lemey P, Rambaut A, Bedford T, Faria N, Bielejec F, Baele G, Russell CA, Smith DJ, Pybus OG, Brockmann D et al. (2014): Unifying viral genetics and human transportation data to predict the global transmission dynamics of human influenza H3N2
    PLoS Pathog. 10 (2): e1003932. Epub Feb 20. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003932. more

  • Brockmann D, Helbing D (2013): The hidden geometry of complex, network-driven contagion phenomena
    Science 342 (6164): 1337-1342. Epub Dec 13. doi: 10.1126/science.1245200. more

  • Belik V, Geisel T, Brockmann D (2011): Natural human mobility patterns and spatial spread of infectious diseases
    Phys. Rev. X 1: 011001. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevX.1.011001. more

  • Thiemann C, Theis F, Grady D, Brune R, Brockmann D (2010): The Structure of Borders in a Small World
    PLoS ONE 5 (11): e15422. Epub Nov 18. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015422. more

  • Brockmann D, Hufnagel L, Geisel T (2006): The scaling laws of human travel
    Nature 439: 462-465. Epub Jan 26. doi: 10.1038/nature04292. more

  • Hufnagel L, Brockmann D, Geisel T (2004): Forecast and control of epidemics in a globalized world
    PNAS 101 (42): 15124-15129. more