Researchers in the Department of Biology and at the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology are using genomic tools to study a range of different infectious diseases, including the malaria parasite Plasmodium, species of parasitic trichomonad, tick-borne pathogens, Brugia malayi that causes lymphatic filariasis, and influenza and other respiratory viruses, to name a few. Research projects include studies on host-pathogen interactions, determining the molecular epidemiology of infectious disease agents, exploring infectious disease evolution and transmission, and developing predictive models of disease severity.
In close parallel, other studies in the department look at human and environmental "microbiomes", the collective genomes of microbes found in, for example, body cavities such as the lungs, or ecological niches such as urban gardens. Facilitated by advances in sequencing technologies, it is now feasible to examine the composition of such complex microbial communities in order to increase our knowledge of microorganisms and their effect on humans, wildlife and ecosystems. We are increasingly aware of the delicate balance between the microbes that colonize various habitats and niches, and how their dysregulation or perturbation affects our health and the environment.