The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Research

Our main research themes are highly interrelated. They integrate a wide range of scientific disciplines — from immunology, virology, bioinformatics, genomics and evolutionary biology, to epidemiology, disease ecology and architecture. They also span the whole range of biological complexity — from genes and proteins to populations and pandemics.

Evolution and virulence

We study the evolution of parasites and pathogens (including those which jump to novel host species, causing emerging disease), and how this affects their pathogenicity and virulence. We are also investigating coevolution between hosts and disease agents, and between interacting parasites and pathogens of different strains and species. Findings are relevant to disease surveillance and control policies.

 

Heterogeneities

CIDD researchers are investigating how the epidemiology and evolution of host-pathogen interactions are affected by geographical, behavioural, physiological and genetic variation in hosts and disease agents.

 

Immunodynamics

Interactions between pathogens and host immune systems.

 

Parasite interactions

Considerable insights into disease dynamics can come from focusing on pairwise interactions between one host species and one disease-causing species. However, to understand the spread and evolution of disease more fully, we also need to take into account interactions between: parasite / pathogen species — including those mediated by hosts, vectors and the environment; host species — including those mediated by parasites / pathogens

 

Phylodynamics

The melding of immunodynamics, epidemiology and evolutionary biology to explore how pathogen genetic variation is modulated by host immunity, transmission bottlenecks and epidemic dynamics to determine the wide range of pathogen phylogenies observed at scales from individual host to population.

 

Control

CIDD research is relevant to the design of strategies to control human and animal diseases — including zoonotic and other emerging diseases.

 

Emerging diseases

CIDD researchers are exploring what underlies the emergence and persistence of emerging and re-emerging diseases — from the cellular mechanisms involved in invasion of the host; to host immune responses; to the evolution of viruses by mutation, recombination and reassortment; to the spatial and social arrangement of host populations that predispose them to successful invasion.

 

Synopses

Summaries of selected papers by CIDD researchers.