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Genomic Epidemiology

The Genomic Epidemiology Unit within the Malaria Research Program applies methods from molecular epidemiology, evolutionary biology, and population genetics toward understanding the evolution of the malaria parasite in response to natural infection and interventions such as drugs and vaccines. Ongoing projects include studies to investigate malaria parasite antigenic escape and its impact on the efficacy of subunit and whole-organism malaria vaccines, genome-wide studies to understand the mechanisms underlying emerging antimalarial drug resistance and to identify molecular markers of resistance for use in surveillance, and inference of parasite population demography to understand malaria transmission patterns and inform malaria elimination strategies. The Genomic Epidemiology Unit works closely with investigators in the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) Institute for Genome Sciences, as well as with investigators at the Centers for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and Geospatial Information Science at the University of Maryland College Park.

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

Shannon Takala Harrison, PhD