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Science AMA Series: We’re a group of scientists who use genomic sequencing technology to understand how viruses spread. Ask Us Anything!
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EDIT: Thank you everybody for all the GREAT questions! Some of us will have to go do some sciencing, but we’ll keep checking in and continue to answer your questions - please keep ’em coming! Hi Reddit, We are a group of scientists who use genomic sequencing technology to study the spread of viruses during outbreaks. Most recently we’ve been exploring the spread of Zika virus across the Americas. In order to understand how the virus has spread, we sequenced the virus genome from samples obtained from infected individuals, as well as from the mosquitoes that transmit the virus. Analysis of the genomic data allowed us to show how Zika virus spread across South America and Central America, into the Caribbean, and from there into Florida in the United States. Our papers on Zika virus can be read for free here: Zika virus evolution and spread in the Americas by Metsky et al. Establishment and cryptic transmission of Zika virus in Brazil and the Americas by Faria et al. Genomic epidemiology reveals multiple introductions of Zika virus into the United States by Grubaugh et al. The following scientists will be participating in this AMA: Kristian Andersen, PhD, an Assistant Professor at The Scripps Research Institute and Director of Infectious Disease Genomics at the Scripps Translational Science Institute. Kristian has a background in host-pathogen evolution and immunology. Nathan Grubaugh, PhD, a Research Associate at The Scripps Research Institute. Nathan is a postdoc in the Andersen Laboratory and is an expert on mosquito-borne viruses, such as Zika, chikungunya, and West Nile. Hayden Metsky, a member of the Sabeti Lab at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Hayden is a graduate student in computer science at MIT and is interested in computational biology, machine learning, and their applications in viral genomics. Shirlee Wohl, a member of the Sabeti Lab at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Shirlee is a graduate student in Systems Biology at Harvard and is interested in using genomic approaches to understand viral disease transmission. Bronwyn MacInnis, PhD, is Associate Director of Malaria and Viral Genomics at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, with experience in combining genomic technologies and epidemiology to understand and control infectious diseases affecting global health. Jason Ladner, PhD, a member of the Center for Genome Sciences at USAMRIID. Jason is an evolutionary biologist who uses genetic data to understand the emergence and spread of pathogens. Nick Loman, PhD, is a Professor of Microbial Genomics and Bioinformatics at the University of Birmingham. His research focuses on the use of sequencing for the diagnosis and surveillance of infectious diseases. He has applied portable nanopore sequencing in field conditions in Guinea during the Ebola epidemic and in a mobile laboratory that travelled through Brazil to investigate Zika. Steve Schaffner, PhD, a senior staff scientist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He is an ex-physicist who applies computational tools to study the population genetics of humans and their pathogens. Nathan Yozwiak, PhD, is Associate Director of Viral Genomics at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard with experience in using genomic technologies to detect and understand viruses and expanding these capabilities to regions at risk of serious outbreaks. We’ll be back at 1pm EST/ 10am PST to answer your questions. Ask us about genetics, genomics, virus biology, outbreak surveillance - ask us anything!