Infectious Diseases - Introduction

Studying disease-causing microbes and finding ways to thwart them

Advances in genomics are revolutionizing infectious disease research, with sequencing speed reaching the point at which scientists can apply genomics to study disease outbreaks or contribute to clinical diagnostics in real time.

IGS investigators are at the cutting edge of that research, using the latest technologies to study pathogens and parasites, shedding new light on infectious diseases and the interaction with the host. Genomics is helping scientists develop diagnostic tests, understand how pathogens evolve, and identify targets for novel therapeutic drugs and vaccines. In addition to their genomics expertise, many of the IGS researchers have backgrounds in microbiology, infectious disease, and/or epidemiology, and are primary faculty in those departments at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

IGS scientists exploit the power of genomics, comparative genomics, transcriptomics, evolution, and epidemiology in a comprehensive, system biology approach to identify host-pathogen interactions, molecular markers of pathogenic isolates, emerging groups of pathogens, and population structure. Research focuses on causative agents of diarrhea, meningitis, plague, pneumonia, otitis media, strep throat typhoid fever, Lyme disease, hospital acquired infections, sexual transmitted diseases, Rickettsial diseases, pulmonary infections, and more.

Dr. David Rasko - E. coli outbreak in Germany

Using a combination of population genomics, single cell genomics, transcriptomics, epidemiology, and immunology, IGS researchers are studying numerous eukaryotic pathogens and parasites, with the goal of identifying novel therapeutics as well as studying drug resistance, immune response, and vaccine evasion. Research focuses on the causative agents of malaria, babesiosis, East Coast fever, cryptosporidiosis, lymphatic filariasis, candidiasis, aspergillosis, and mucomycosis.

In addition to genome sequencing projects targeting specific pathogenic organisms, IGS researchers also are exploring the human microbiome in the context of infectious diseases of both bacterial pathogens and eukaryotic parasites through the application of metagenomics.

The Institute is strategically positioned within a hub with internationally renowned infectious diseases research centers at the medical school – the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health and the Institute for Human Virology. This close proximity is fueling large-scale collaborative research to address the challenges posed by global infectious diseases.