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Public Health Genomics

The Center for Public Health Genomics is focused on the application of NextGen sequencing (NGS) on issues of public health importance. In particular, its aims are to develop methods to:

  • Enhance the detection, diagnosis and tracking of bacterial, viral and fungal disease outbreaks.
  • Improve the detection of drug-resistant variants and identification of new agents of disease.
  • Enable the characterization and differentiation of organisms at a level not possible with existing technologies.
  • Develop screening and confirmatory tests for genetic disorders of newborns that would not be possible with established methods.
  • Provide the rapid monitoring and response to public health emergencies that only an on-site, dedicated facility can provide.
  • Provide essential expertise for validation of consumer point-of-service genetic testing, proficiency testing and regulation of NGS laboratory testing. 

Research Area Profile

  • Valerie J. Bolivar

    Valerie J. Bolivar, Ph.D.

    • Neurobehavioral Genetics

    We examine the genetics of brain abnormalities and behavioral impairments associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. Our current focus is identifying genes involved in abnormal forebrain connectivity and autism-relevant behaviors in mice.

  • Michele Caggana

    Michele Caggana, Ph.D.

    • Deputy Director of the Division of Genetics

    We focus on understanding how human genetic variation influences disease susceptibility, morbidity and outcome by studying the relationships between gene variants and environmental factors.

  • Alexander T. Ciota, Ph.D.

    Alexander T. Ciota, Ph.D.

    • Arbovirus Laboratory

    We study arbovirus adaptation and vector-virus interactions, focusing on West Nile virus and Culex mosquitoes. Areas of interest include mutant swarm dynamics, mechanisms of adaptation, microbial interactions and vectorial capacity.

  • Keith M. Derbyshire

    Keith M. Derbyshire, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Division of Genetics

    We study mycobacteria and use molecular genetic approaches to investigate: global gene expression, at both transcriptional and translational levels; the mechanism of distributive conjugal transfer; and synthetic genetic interactions.

  • Christina Egan

    Christina Egan, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Biodefense Laboratory

    We focus on the development and validation of assays to detect pathogens and toxins associated with bioterrorism or food-borne disease. We utilize methods such as real-time PCR, whole genome sequencing, and mass spectrometry for rapid detection of agents.

  • Vincent Escuyer

    Vincent Escuyer, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Mycobacteriology Laboratory

    We are interested in the mechanisms underlying resistance of M. tuberculosis to major TB drugs and in the development and validation of molecular assays involving whole genome sequencing for rapid detection of drug resistant tuberculosis.

  • Todd Gray

    Todd Gray, Ph.D.

    • Molecular Genetics of Mycobacteria

    We use innovative molecular genomic approaches to address fundamental questions of mycobacterial biology. Our findings shed new light on the evolution and function of mycobacterial genomes, accelerating tuberculosis research.

  • Bruce J. Herron

    Bruce J. Herron, Ph.D.

    • Mammalian Genomics

    We utilize an array of mammalian genomic tools to discover genetic modifiers that influence multifactorial diseases. These susceptibility loci are targets for diagnosis and treatment of similar disorders in humans.

  • Denise M. Kay

    Denise M. Kay, Ph.D.

    • Newborn Screening Program

    We use targeted and genome-wide approaches to identify and characterize mutations/genes involved in diseases affecting children, including conditions screened by the NYS newborn screening program and birth defects.

  •  Laura D. Kramer, Ph.D.

    Laura D. Kramer, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Arbovirus Laboratory

    We focus on basic and applied field and laboratory studies examining the interaction of mosquito and tick-borne arboviruses, arthropod vectors and vertebrate hosts, and how this interaction impacts transmission intensity.

  • Pascal Lapierre, Ph.D.

    Pascal Lapierre, Ph.D.

    • Bioinformatics and Statistics Core

    My specific area of expertise within the Bioinformatics Core is bacterial genomics, evolution and phylogeny.

  •  Kimberlee A. Musser

    Kimberlee A. Musser, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Bacteriology Laboratory

    We develop molecular diagnostic assays and reference testing for the detection and characterization of pathogenic bacteria and mycobacteria and to predict antibiotic resistance using real-time PCR and whole genome sequencing.

  • Michael J. Palumbo, Ph.D.

    Michael J. Palumbo, B.S.

    • Director of the Bioinformatics and Statistics Core

    The Bioinformatics Core assists core users in applying a variety of bioinformatics methods to their research needs.

  • Monica Parker, Ph.D.

    Monica Parker, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Bloodborne Viruses Laboratory

    We focus on developing laboratory methods to improve the diagnosis, management and surveillance of HIV and hepatitis C virus and evaluating genetic variation in these viruses.

  • Erasmus Schneider

    Erasmus Schneider, Ph.D.

    • Associate Director for Research and Technology

    We are interested in the quality control challenges of molecular techniques used to diagnose and predict the therapeutic response of cancer, and the application of NextGen sequencing to public health.

  • Kirsten St. George

    Kirsten St. George, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Virology Laboratory

    We develop viral detection and characterization assays and investigate new molecular chemistries and platforms. Research includes rhinovirus infection in transplant recipients, drug-resistant influenza and adenovirus evolution.

  • Colleen F. Stevens

    Colleen F. Stevens, Ph.D.

    • Newborn Screening Program

    We focus on the development and validation of genetic tests for the NYS newborn screening program and the study of genotype-phenotype correlations of single gene disorders with varying clinical presentations.

  • Patrick Van Roey

    Patrick Van Roey, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Scientific Cores

    The AGTC core develops next-generation technologies for application to new diagnostic tests.

  • Joseph T. Wade

    Joseph T. Wade, Ph.D.

    • Microbial Gene Expression

    We study gene regulation in bacteria, with a focus on genome-scale approaches. We are interested in regulation of transcription, the function of non-coding RNAs, and leaderless translation initiation.

  • William J. Wolfgang

    William J. Wolfgang, Ph.D.

    • Bacteriology Laboratory

    We are working with the CDC and FDA to implement whole genome sequencing (WGS) for foodborne bacterial surveillance. WGS provides greater resolution and improved source traceback permitting more rapid identification of sources of bacterial contamination.