Godoy-Vitorino, Filipa – Metagenomics of Microbe-Human Interactions

Dr. Filipa Godoy-Vitorino is an Associate Professor at the Department of Natural Sciences, Interamerican University Metropolitan Campus and heads the Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Genomics (MEGL). Her lab uses microbiome data (16S and ITS profiles and shotgun metagenomics) to study ecosystem functions and microbe-host interactions in humans, plants and animals. She integrates DNA sequence data (high throughput sequencing) with ecology, physiology and bioinformatics. Currently, having nearly exclusive research duties, she is developing different microbiome projects in natural environments including the association between microbiota and cervical HPV infections in Latinas.

Dr. Godoy-Vitorino brings to the project extensive expertise in in microbial community analyses using state of the art pipelines, as well as assembly, annotation and binning of microbial metagenomic data, for gene and enzymatic pathway inference.

Garcia-Arrarás, Jose E. – Gene Profiling of Regeneration Processes

Dr. Garcia-Arrarás has pioneered the use of the echinoderm Holothuria glaberrima to study the process of regeneration and organogenesis. His research focuses on the molecular aspects of organ regeneration, specifically on the genes that are important for intestinal and nervous system regeneration to occur. His lab has generated an expressed sequence tag (EST) database for H. glaberrima sequences obtained from various transcriptomic studies that include normal nervous tissue, normal intestine and regenerating nervous tissue and intestine at different regenerative stages. Their work is aimed at finding different profiles of gene expression and at determining the function of specific genes during the process of regeneration. Students will be involved in bioinformatics analyses to determine gene sequences, structural domains and gene characterization. In addition, the database will be analyzed to characterize the genetic profiles of nervous tissue specific gene sequence expression, intestinal specific expression and/or stage specific profiles.

In addition to the field of Regeneration, Dr. Garcia-Arraras brings to the project extensive biomedical knowledge in various fields that include Developmental Biology, Neuroscience, Physiology, Immunology and Anatomy.

Conde, José G. – Population Studies Based on Publicly Available Data Sources

Dr. Conde is working with multiple-cause mortality files for the United States (about 2.5 million records per year for years 2005 to 2013) and its territories (about 30,000 records per year for years 2005 to 2013), which are available from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). His research focuses on premature mortality in various populations; multiple-cause-mortality analysis of multiple diseases, including systemic lupus erythematous, and (in collaboration with Dr. Ortiz-Zuazaga) applying new tools to visualize the association of comorbid conditions with underlying causes of death. Thus, he is familiar with NCHS mortality files structure, ICD-10 coding systems, and mortality data collection and recode procedures.

Dr. Conde brings to the project his expertise in Medicine, Public Health and Epidemiology, in addition to his experience of more than 20 years in biomedical informatics projects and infrastructure.

Acevedo, Miguel A – Quantitative Disease Ecology

Dr. Acevedo looks at ecological problems from an interdisciplinary perspective borrowing tools developed in statistics, applied mathematics and computer science to answer questions in spatial disease ecology. He develops mechanistic and statistical models that help us better understand how spatial heterogeneity influences disease spread and how disease spread influences ecosystem processes. He works with a variety host-pathogen systems that include human malaria, lizard malaria, and influenza. Currently, he is collaborating with Dr. Pérez-Hernandez developing Bayesian models of flu spread in the United States using Google Flu data. Interdisciplinary groups of undergraduate students composed of biology, mathematics and computer science will further apply this models to assess the spatial drivers of influenza spread in the United States. He is interested in catalyzing new interdisciplinary collaborations between biology, mathematics and computer science that allow us to answer emergent questions in disease ecology. He foresees teaching an interdisciplinary class for undergraduate biology students in “Applied big data science in disease ecology and evolution”, in conjunction with faculty from mathematics and computer sciences.

Dr. Acevedo brings to the project his previous experience conducting interdisciplinary science.His previous training in interdisciplinary training will allow him to serve as a bridge between disease biology and other quantitative disciplines.