PhD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2003
MPH, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 1998
BA, Wesleyan University, 1995
My primary research interest is on the host genetic susceptibility to infectious disease. Infectious diseases epitomize a complex disease because both genetic and environmental factors must play a role in susceptibility and progression of disease. The exposure to an environmental pathogen is critical to risk, but genes in the host can influence innate and adaptive immunity and thus the risk of disease and its severity. My goal is to identify the underlying mechanisms of infectious disease by identifying host genetic variants that alter or influence our immune response.
My main research objectives are to decipher and understand host genes that control susceptibility and immunity to infection. I work with adult and pediatric populations within the United States and Internationally (Bangladesh, Brazil) to identify host genes associated with parasitic (E. histolytica, Cryptosporidium, Giardia) and viral (hepatitis C, human immunodeficiency virus, rotavirus) infections. I am especially interested in the role of malnutrition in diarrheal disease and the identification of ancestry specific mutations. I have worked to identify novel immune related genes that may explain the wide heterogeneity in both infection and disease susceptibility using both candidate gene and genome wide association methods. My work has led to the identification of loci for Leishmania related traits, Hepatitis C and Entamoeba histolytica. I plan to expand the work I have done to date to include host genetic analysis of vaccine response, specifically focused on identifying genes that may contribute to vaccine failures for existing and experimental vaccines.
I also am interested in ocular genetics. Working with the Beaver Dam Eye Study, I evaluate the genetics of glaucoma and glaucoma related traits. This includes candidate gene and exome analysis.
Overall, my research is at the intersection of genes and environment. Outside of the applied studies I also work towards improving and evaluating genetic methodologies.
Honors and Awards
2002 NHGRI Directors Distinguished Service Award, NIH
2004 Fellows Award for Research Excellence, NIH
2005 NHGRI Intramural Research Award, NIH (1 of 3 awarded to an outstanding research fellow)
2012 Teaching Excellence, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health