Research Overview

Using social media, Internet searches, and electronic health records to predict incidence of flu and dengue in multiple locations worldwide. Using electronic health records to predict outcomes in pediatric intensive care units.

About Dr. Mauricio Santillana

Mauricio Santillana is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, a faculty member in the Computational Health Informatics Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an associate at the Harvard Institute for Applied and Computational Sciences. Mauricio enjoys working with clinicians in the design of decision-making support tools.

Mauricio is a physicist and applied mathematician with expertise in mathematical modeling and scientific computing. He has worked in multiple research areas frequently analyzing big data sets to understand and predict the behavior of complex systems. His research modeling population growth patterns has informed policy makers in Mexico and Texas. His research in numerical analysis and computational fluid dynamics has been used to improve models of coastal floods due to hurricanes, and to improve the performance of global atmospheric chemistry models. In recent years, his main interest has been to develop mathematical models to improve healthcare. Specifically, he has leveraged information from big data sets from Internet-based services (such as Google, Twitter, Flu Near You, Weather) and electronic health records (EHR) to predict disease incidence in multiple locations worldwide and to predict outcomes in hospitalized patients. Dr. Santillana has advised the CDC and the White House on the development of population-wide disease forecasting tools.

Mauricio received a B.S. in physics with highest honors from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico in Mexico City, and a master’s and PhD in computational and applied mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin. Mauricio first joined Harvard as a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Center for the Environment and has been a lecturer in applied mathematics at the Harvard SEAS, receiving two awards for excellence in teaching.



  • English

  • Spanish

Researcher Services

Researcher Areas

  • Predictive Modeling
  • Machine Intelligence Applied to Healthcare

Researcher Programs


Publications powered by Harvard Catalyst Profiles

  1. Lu FS, Hattab MW, Clemente CL, Biggerstaff M, Santillana M. Improved state-level influenza nowcasting in the United States leveraging Internet-based data and network approaches. Nat Commun. 2019 01 11; 10(1):147. View abstract
  2. Majumder MS, Cohn EL, Santillana M, Brownstein JS. Estimation of Pneumonic Plague Transmission in Madagascar, August-November 2017. PLoS Curr. 2018 Nov 01; 10. View abstract
  3. Baltrusaitis K, Brownstein JS, Scarpino SV, Bakota E, Crawley AW, Conidi G, Gunn J, Gray J, Zink A, Santillana M. Comparison of crowd-sourced, electronic health records based, and traditional health-care based influenza-tracking systems at multiple spatial resolutions in the United States of America. BMC Infect Dis. 2018 Aug 15; 18(1):403. View abstract
  4. Santillana M, Tuite A, Nasserie T, Fine P, Champredon D, Chindelevitch L, Dushoff J, Fisman D. . Relatedness of the Incidence Decay with Exponential Adjustment (IDEA) Model," Farr's Law" and SIR Compartmental Difference Equation Models. Infectious Disease Modelling. 2018; 3(1):1-12. View abstract
  5. MacFadden DR, McGough SF, Fisman D, Santillana M, Brownstein JS. Antibiotic Resistance Increases with Local Temperature. Nature Climate Change. 2018; (8):510-514. View abstract
  6. MacFadden DR, McGough SF, Fisman D, Santillana M, Brownstein JS. Antibiotic Resistance Increases with Local Temperature. Nat Clim Chang. 2018 Jun; 8(6):510-514. View abstract
  7. Lu FS, Hou S, Baltrusaitis K, Shah M, Leskovec J, Sosic R, Hawkins J, Brownstein J, Conidi G, Gunn J, Gray J, Zink A, Santillana M. Accurate Influenza Monitoring and Forecasting Using Novel Internet Data Streams: A Case Study in the Boston Metropolis. JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2018 Jan 09; 4(1):e4. View abstract
  8. Brownstein JS, Chu S, Marathe A, Marathe MV, Nguyen AT, Paolotti D, Perra N, Perrotta D, Santillana M, Swarup S, Tizzoni M, Vespignani A, Vullikanti AKS, Wilson ML, Zhang Q. Combining Participatory Influenza Surveillance with Modeling and Forecasting: Three Alternative Approaches. JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2017 Nov 01; 3(4):e83. View abstract
  9. Kluberg SA, McGinnis DP, Hswen Y, Majumder MS, Santillana M, Brownstein JS. County-level assessment of United States kindergarten vaccination rates for measles mumps rubella (MMR) for the 2014-2015 school year. Vaccine. 2017 11 07; 35(47):6444-6450. View abstract
  10. Yang S, Kou SC, Lu F, Brownstein JS, Brooke N, Santillana M. Advances in using Internet searches to track dengue. PLoS Comput Biol. 2017 Jul; 13(7):e1005607. View abstract
  11. Yang S, Santillana M, Brownstein JS, Gray J, Richardson S, Kou SC. Using electronic health records and Internet search information for accurate influenza forecasting. BMC Infect Dis. 2017 05 08; 17(1):332. View abstract
  12. Baltrusaitis K, Santillana M, Crawley AW, Chunara R, Smolinski M, Brownstein JS. Determinants of Participants' Follow-Up and Characterization of Representativeness in Flu Near You, A Participatory Disease Surveillance System. JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2017 Apr 07; 3(2):e18. View abstract
  13. McGough SF, Brownstein JS, Hawkins JB, Santillana M. Forecasting Zika Incidence in the 2016 Latin America Outbreak Combining Traditional Disease Surveillance with Search, Social Media, and News Report Data. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2017 01; 11(1):e0005295. View abstract
  14. Schlosser K, Smallwood C, Arnold J, Lee G, Priebe G, Walsh B, Santillana M. 1015: IDENTIFICATION OF PEDIATRIC VENTILATOR-ASSOCIATED CONDITIONS USING CONTINUOUS VENTILATOR DATA. Crit Care Med. 2016 Dec; 44(12 Suppl 1):330. View abstract
  15. Smallwood C, Walsh B, Rettig J, Thompson J, Santillana M, Arnold J. 955: A MACHINE-LEARNING ALGORITHM FOR OXYGENATION RESPONSE PREDICTION IN MECHANICALLY VENTILATED CHILDREN. Crit Care Med. 2016 Dec; 44(12 Suppl 1):315. View abstract
  16. Walsh B, Smallwood C, Rettig J, Santillana M, Arnold J. 949: DEVELOPMENT OF HEART, RESPIRATORY RATE, AND OXYGEN SATURATION PERCENTILE CURVES IN CHILDREN. Crit Care Med. 2016 Dec; 44(12 Suppl 1):313. View abstract
  17. Johansson MA, Reich NG, Hota A, Brownstein JS, Santillana M. Evaluating the performance of infectious disease forecasts: A comparison of climate-driven and seasonal dengue forecasts for Mexico. Sci Rep. 2016 Sep 26; 6:33707. View abstract
  18. Santillana M. Editorial Commentary: Perspectives on the Future of Internet Search Engines and Biosurveillance Systems. Clin Infect Dis. 2017 01 01; 64(1):42-43. View abstract
  19. Majumder MS, Santillana M, Mekaru SR, McGinnis DP, Khan K, Brownstein JS. Utilizing Nontraditional Data Sources for Near Real-Time Estimation of Transmission Dynamics During the 2015-2016 Colombian Zika Virus Disease Outbreak. JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2016 Jun 01; 2(1):e30. View abstract
  20. Santillana M, Nguyen AT, Louie T, Zink A, Gray J, Sung I, Brownstein JS. Cloud-based Electronic Health Records for Real-time, Region-specific Influenza Surveillance. Sci Rep. 2016 05 11; 6:25732. View abstract
  21. Yang S, Santillana M, Kou SC. Accurate estimation of influenza epidemics using Google search data via ARGO. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Nov 24; 112(47):14473-8. View abstract
  22. Santillana M, Nguyen AT, Dredze M, Paul MJ, Nsoesie EO, Brownstein JS. Combining Search, Social Media, and Traditional Data Sources to Improve Influenza Surveillance. PLoS Comput Biol. 2015 Oct; 11(10):e1004513. View abstract
  23. Smolinski MS, Crawley AW, Baltrusaitis K, Chunara R, Olsen JM, Wójcik O, Santillana M, Nguyen A, Brownstein JS. Flu Near You: Crowdsourced Symptom Reporting Spanning 2 Influenza Seasons. Am J Public Health. 2015 Oct; 105(10):2124-30. View abstract
  24. Majumder MS, Kluberg S, Santillana M, Mekaru S, Brownstein JS. 2014 ebola outbreak: media events track changes in observed reproductive number. PLoS Curr. 2015 Apr 28; 7. View abstract
  25. Nagar R, Yuan Q, Freifeld CC, Santillana M, Nojima A, Chunara R, Brownstein JS. A case study of the New York City 2012-2013 influenza season with daily geocoded Twitter data from temporal and spatiotemporal perspectives. J Med Internet Res. 2014 Oct 20; 16(10):e236. View abstract
  26. Santillana M, Nsoesie EO, Mekaru SR, Scales D, Brownstein JS. Using clinicians' search query data to monitor influenza epidemics. Clin Infect Dis. 2014 Nov 15; 59(10):1446-50. View abstract
  27. Santillana M, Zhang DW, Althouse BM, Ayers JW. What can digital disease detection learn from (an external revision to) Google Flu Trends? Am J Prev Med. 2014 Sep; 47(3):341-7. View abstract
  28. Gluskin RT, Johansson MA, Santillana M, Brownstein JS. Evaluation of Internet-based dengue query data: Google Dengue Trends. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2014 Feb; 8(2):e2713. View abstract
  29. Calo VM, Collier N, Gehre M, Jin B, Radwan H, Santillana M. Gradient-based estimation of Manning’s friction coefficient from noisy data. Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics. 2013; (238):1–13. View abstract
  30. Santillana M. Quantifying the loss of information in source attribution problems using the adjoint method in global models of atmospheric chemical transport. arXiv preprint arXiv:1311.6315. 2013. View abstract
  31. Santillana M, Dawson C. A numerical approach to study the properties of solutions of the diffusive wave approximation of the shallow water equations. Computational Geosciences. 2010; 1(14):31-53. View abstract
  32. Santillana M, Dawson C. A local discontinuous Galerkin method for a doubly nonlinear diffusion equation arising in shallow water modeling. Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering. 2010; 23(199):1424–1436.. View abstract
  33. Zhan BF, Tapia Silva FO, Santillana M. Estimating small-area population growth using geographic-knowledge-guided cellular automata. International Journal of Remote Sensing. 2010; 21(31):5689–5707. View abstract
  34. Santillana M, Le Sager P, Jacob DJ, Brenner MP. An adaptive reduction algorithm for efficient chemical calculations in global atmospheric chemistry models. Atmospheric Environment. 2010; 35(44):4426–4431. View abstract
  35. Alonso R, Santillana M, Dawson C. On the diffusive wave approximation of the shallow water equations. European Journal of Applied Mathematics. 2008; 05(19):575–606. View abstract