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Molecular Epidemiology Unit

The Molecular Epidemiology Unit within the Malaria Group of the Center for Vaccine Development applies methods from molecular epidemiology, evolutionary biology, and population genetics/genomics toward understanding the evolution of the malaria parasite in response to the human immune system and interventions such as drugs and vaccines. Ongoing projects include studies to investigate the impact of parasite genetic diversity on the efficacy of subunit and whole organism malaria vaccines and genome-wide studies to understand the mechanisms behind emerging anti-malarial drug resistance and identify molecular markers that can be used to track and contain resistant parasites. The Molecular Epidemiology Unit works closely with investigators and bioinformatics engineers within the University’s Institute for Genome Sciences applying next generation genomics platforms in the context of carefully designed epidemiological studies.

The unit is led by Dr. Shannon Takala Harrison, a molecular epidemiologist trained in the School of Medicine’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. Dr. Harrison mentors students from the Molecular Epidemiology and Genome Biology programs within the Graduate Program in Life Sciences, as well as visiting international scientists from malaria endemic areas.

Takala lab photo