Finding the drivers of disease emergence

Event type: 
Seminar
Date: 
26 October 2018
Time: 
3pm - 4pm
Location: 

Mathews Building, Theatre D

Presenter: 
Dr. Jemma Geoghegan
Macquarie University
Host: 
Dr. Daniel Falster

Emerging infectious diseases are often characterised by host-switching events in which a pathogen jumps from its original host to infect a novel species. With changes in land use and increasing urbanisation, the frequency with which pathogens jump species barriers to emerge in new hosts is expected to rise. Nevertheless, most emerging infections in humans result in dead-end ‘spillover’ events in which a pathogen is transmitted from an animal reservoir to a human but is unable to achieve the sustained human-to-human transmission necessary for a full-blown epidemic. This talk will focus on my research into the evolutionary processes that might allow novel pathogens to adapt to new hosts; and the potential barriers to host adaptation.

Bio: Jemma’s research aims to reveal the drivers of virus diversity, ecology and evolution, including the virus-host interactions that lead to the infection of new host species and result in disease emergence. With the potential for viruses to spillover to novel host species by cross-species transmission becoming increasingly apparent, Jemma’s research focuses specifically on the evolutionary processes that might allow novel pathogens to adapt to new hosts; and the potential barriers to host adaptation.