Battelle Developing Predictive Technology for Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to Help Identify Epidemic Security Threats

COLUMBUS, Ohio (July 27, 2021)—National security interests are simultaneously threatened and enhanced by the rapid pace of technology transformation, such as in the realm of emerging or re-emerging diseases. For instance, new peer-reviewed research publications in PubMed, a repository of abstracts in biomedical literature, has grown from under 500,000 annually in 1999 to just over 1.2 million annually in 2019. Analysts have a monumental task to monitor the increasingly large and complex landscape of scientific communication to identify and respond to emerging threats and opportunities. Failure to do so could lead to critical national security gaps, as pandemics have the potential to weaken societies, political systems, and economies simultaneously.

Under a contract with IARPA, Battelle has developed a methodology called TechAware Search Continuous Automated Scanning for Technology Transformation (CASTT), which focuses specifically on monitoring technology domains related to epidemics for significant changes and allowing separation of emergence (new ideas) from convergence (development of scientific consensus), enabling more timely decision making. The system monitors text data from various data streams using natural language processing (NLP), constructs and updates a graph neural network based on NLP data, and predicts key pandemic-related behavioral changes.

A first phase has been completed in which Battelle successfully built and validated the model to provide early and efficient warning of technological “surprises” to analysts. Now researchers will integrate the methodology into an application and work with analysts who will test the effectiveness. In addition, Chinese sources of information will be added to the database.

“This project shows significant promise for the use of graph neural networks to predict real-world, rare events using high-volume text data,” said Allen Chen, Lead Data Scientist. “We’re excited to enter the next phase of this work to further refine this important tool and get it into the hands of those who need it.”

Battelle public health research has long been trusted to guide program development and public policy for a variety of federal agencies. Battelle supports critical public health research and program development with expert evaluation, on-the-ground support and subject matter expertise for a wide variety of public health programs.

About Battelle

Every day, the people of Battelle apply science and technology to solving what matters most. At major technology centers and national laboratories around the world, Battelle conducts research and development, designs and manufactures products, and delivers critical services for government and commercial customers. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio since its founding in 1929, Battelle serves the national security, health and life sciences, and energy and environmental industries. For more information, visit


Jul 27, 2021


Battelle Media Relations

Media Contacts

Katy Delaney
Director, Media Relations
Office: 1.614.424.7208
Email: [email protected] 

T.R. Massey
Senior Media Specialist
Office: 1.614.424.5544 
Email: [email protected] 

Sign Up for Battelle Updates

Follow along with the latest news, announcements and updates from our Battelle community of solvers.