Our lab uses pathogen genomics to investigate the emergence and spread of bacterial infectious diseases, with a specific interest in antibiotic-resistant pathogens that are frequent causes of healthcare-associated infections.  To accomplish this, we use a variety of tools including epidemiology, bioinformatics, computational biology, population genomics, and phylogenetics.  Our goal is to understand the factors that contribute to pathogen success and to develop new genomic epidemiological methods to detect, monitor, and combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.

Primary pathogens of interest include Streptococcus pneumoniae, a leading cause of infections in children and adults, as well as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a prevalent cause of both community and healthcare-associated infections.  Other pathogens of interest include Vibrio cholerae, Neisseria meningitidis, and the ESKAPE bacteria that are commonly associated with antimicrobial resistance.

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Key Publications:

Cella E, Sutcliffe C, Weatherholtz RC, Reid R, Reid A, Quay D, Hammitt L, Azarian T, 2021. Carriage prevalence and genomic epidemiology of Staphylococcus aureus among Native Americans in the southwestern US. 2022 May 13; doi: 10.1099/mgen.0.000806

Cella, E., Ali, S., Schmedes, S.E., Rife Magalis, B., Marini, S., Salemi, M., Blanton, J. and Azarian, T., 2022. Early Emergence Phase of SARS-CoV-2 Delta Variant in Florida, US. Viruses, 14(4), p.766.

Azarian T, Cella E, Baines SL, Shumaker MJ, Samel C, Jubair M, Pegues DA and David MZ (2021) Genomic Epidemiology and Global Population Structure of Exfoliative Toxin A-Producing Staphylococcus aureus Strains Associated With Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome. Front. Microbiol. 12:663831. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.663831

Azarian, T., Martinez, P.P., Arnold, B.J., Grant, L.R., Corander, J., Fraser, C., Croucher, N.J., Hammitt, L.L., Reid, R., Santosham, M. and Weatherholtz, R.C., 2020. Frequency-dependent selection can forecast evolution in Streptococcus pneumoniae. PLoS biology. 2020 Oct 22;18(10):e3000878.

Azarian T, Ridgway JP, Yin Z, David MZ. Long-term intrahost evolution of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureusamong cystic fibrosis patients with respiratory carriage. Frontiers in Genetics. 2019;10.

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