GVN Center and Member Spotlight

November 20, 2020 – GVN SPOTLIGHT ON:

Elodie Ghedin, PhD
Chief, Systems Genomics Section, Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health
USA

What are you and your institution currently working on regarding COVID-19?

The NIAID has many projects and programs currently focused on COVID-19 research, ranging from vaccine development, diagnostics, therapeutics, pathogenesis, identification of biomarkers of severity, and many others. In my group, we have been working on determining factors of transmission and genetic diversity of SARS-CoV-2 in populations at risk. The overriding goal of our project is to provide an understanding of the factors that contribute to the emergence of viral variants, with a focus on obesity as a factor that impacts diversity and transmission. For this work we are collaborating with Dr. Stacey Schultz-Cherry at St. Jude who has developed a diet induced obesity (DIO) ferret model, which allows us to probe the effects of obesity on the virus. In a collaboration with Dr. Leo Segal at NYU Langone, we are also currently characterizing by metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analyses the microbial community of the lower respiratory tract from COVID-19 patients to profile the microbiome and virome as a function of disease severity and outcomes.

Microfluidics platform for virus detection and characterization?

As part of our effort to profile respiratory viruses, we are developing a portable microfluidics detection device with built-in carbon nanotube cartridges and a miniature high-sensitive Raman spectrometer to enrich and identify viruses from clinical samples. The enriched viruses trapped within the carbon nanotube cartridges can be used for rapid diagnosis and for subsequent genomic analysis. The initial work from this collaboration with Dr. Yin-Ting Yeh and Dr. Mauricio Terrones, at Pennsylvania State University, was published in PNAS earlier this year and we are currently adapting it for SARS-CoV-2 detection and characterization.

Biosketch

Dr. Elodie Ghedin obtained her Ph.D. from McGill University’s Institute of Parasitology in Montreal, Canada. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at NIAID, she joined The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR; now the J. Craig Venter Institute) where she led her own group on parasite genomics and initiated the virus genomic efforts, primarily influenza virus. In 2006 she joined the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine where she was part of the Department of Computational and Systems Biology and the Center for Vaccine Research. In 2014 she moved to New York University where she was a professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, and a professor of epidemiology in the School of Global Public Health. From 2017 to 2019, she served as director of NYU’s Center for Genomics and Systems Biology. In May 2020, Dr. Ghedin joined NIAID’s Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases as a senior investigator and chief of the Systems Genomics Section. She also holds an affiliated position with New York University. Dr. Ghedin is a MacArthur Foundation Fellow (2011), a Kavli Frontier of Science Fellow (2012), and an American Academy of Microbiology Fellow (2017).

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