The US Institute of Medicine, in collaboration with the National Academy of Engineering, has developed SMART Vaccines – a decision-support software system that enhances decision-making about priorities for developing new vaccines and deploying existing vaccines. The software can also be used to help specify desirable vaccine characteristics, and can potentially be applied in comparing and prioritizing among a wider array of public health interventions for policy planning.

In a major innovation, SMART Vaccines allows users to specify their own weights on attributes considered important in ranking vaccines, unlike previous ranking tools that imposed a single ranking criterion like life-years saved or cost-effectiveness associated with the vaccine. SMART Vaccines includes a broader range of vaccine attributes from which users can choose for ranking their vaccine development priorities. This talk will present the analytical framework underpinning SMART Vaccines, interactively demonstrate the software tool using decision scenarios, and explore how schools of public health and related research institutions can actively engage in future enhancements of the software and data warehouse.


Charles Phelps, PhD, is University Professor and Provost Emeritus at the University of Rochester. Phelps began his research career at the RAND Corporation, where he served as senior staff economist and director of the Program on Regulatory Policies and Institutions. At RAND, Phelps’s research included the economics of health care, US petroleum price regulations, water markets in California, and environmental regulatory policy. In 1984, Phelps moved to the University of Rochester, where he held appointments in the departments of economics and political science and served as director of the Public Policy Analysis Program and chair of the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine in the School of Medicine and Dentistry. He served as Provost of the University of Rochester from 1994 to 2007. Phelps’s research cuts across the fields of health economics, health policy, medical decision analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis of various medical interventions, and other related topics. He wrote a leading textbook in the field, Health Economics (Addison Wesley, now in its fifth edition), and Eight Questions You Should Ask About Our Health Care System—Even if the Answers Make You Sick (Hoover Institution Press). Phelps has testified before congressional committees on health policy and intellectual property issues. He serves on the board of directors of VirtualScopics, Inc. and as a consultant to Gilead Sciences, Inc. and CardioDx. He is a founding member of the Health Care Task Force of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He received his BA in mathematics from Pomona College, and an MBA in hospital administration and PhD in business economics from the University of Chicago. Phelps is a fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research and a member of the Institute of Medicine.

Guru Madhavan, PhD, is a senior program officer at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Since 2010, he has directed the research and development of SMART Vaccines, a multi-stakeholder prioritization software tool to help reduce barriers for vaccine innovation. As director of this joint Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Engineering effort, Madhavan has also served as co-editor of the Ranking Vaccines reports, and has received the Innovator Award from the Presidents of the National Academies and the Institute of Medicine’s Cecil Award – the highest recognition for a staff researcher. Madhavan received his MS and PhD in biomedical engineering and an MBA from the State University of New York. He has worked in the medical device industry as a research scientist developing cardiac surgical catheters for ablation therapy, and has served as a strategic consultant for tech startup firms and nonprofit organizations. Madhavan is a vice president of IEEE-USA and is a founding member of the Global Young Academy. Madhavan’s books include Pathological Altruism (Oxford, 2011), Practicing Sustainability (Springer, 2012), and a forthcoming nonfiction work on how engineers think (W.W. Norton, Penguin India, and others). Among various awards, he has been named as one of the “New Faces of Engineering” in USA Today, and a distinguished Young Scientist under the age of 40 by the World Economic Forum.