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Polgreen: IEM Helps Provide Surveillance

At the University of Iowa, you can bet -- real money -- on who will win the 2008 presidential race or, if you're a health-care practitioner, where and when the flu virus will strike the state. "We like to think of this as a new way to do surveillance for infectious diseases," Dr. PHILLIP POLGREEN, an associate professor of internal medicine at the university, told The Des Moines Register in November. The university's business faculty launched the futures market (the Iowa Electronic Market) in 1988, allowing students and others to invest up to $500 in the success of various political candidates. Your profits, if any, are determined largely by whether your candidate wins or how much of the popular vote he or she gets. It may sound one step above a poker game, but the school insists the futures market is an excellent forecasting tool, and it has proved remarkably accurate. At midnight on Nov. 1, 2004, the night before the election, it had President Bush earning 50.45 percent of the popular vote. He wound up with 51.54 percent. Registration is required to access this site.

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