(January 20, 2016) The paper, "Robust Post-donation Blood Screening under Prevalence Rate Uncertainty", co-authored by ISE PhD student Hadi El-Amine and his advisors, Dr. Ebru Bish and Dr. Douglas Bish, was selected a finalist for the Pierskalla Award for the Best Paper in Healthcare at the 2015 INFORMS Conference in Philadelphia, PA.
The paper studies the problem of determining a robust testing scheme for screening the donated blood for transfusion-transmittable infections, including, among others, HIV, hepatitis B and C viruses, babesiosis, and West Nile virus, considering that infection prevalence rates in the population are not known with certainty and need to be estimated via surveillance studies. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States requires all blood donations to be tested for certain infections, it does not dictate which particular tests should be used by blood collection centers. Multiple FDA-licensed blood screening tests are available for each infection, and screening tests are imperfectly reliable and have different costs. This work characterizes structural properties of robust testing schemes and develops efficient and exact algorithms. A case study of the United States provides important insight on public policy.