Virtual EMSI offered computational training and forged international connections

The 2021 Evolutionary Medicine Summer Institute (EMSI) was held virtually from May 23rd through 28th. From over 75 applications, 31 people were selected to participate. This diverse group included graduate students, medical students, faculty, undergraduate students, research associates, clinical fellows, and postdocs. Owing to this year’s unique virtual environment, we also had participants that spanned 5 countries: the United States, Canada, Colombia, Qatar, and Turkey.

18 expert instructors from TriCEM’s affiliate institutions led dynamic lectures and hands-on computational labs on topics including core concepts in evolutionary medicine, epidemiology, population genetics, comparative methods, health disparities, phylogenetics and phylodynamics, the microbiome, and cancer. New for this year, participants also worked collaboratively on focused projects that explored new questions and utilized data analysis skills emphasized throughout the weeks. Group projects included:

  • Adiposity and metabolism across primates, led by Charlie Nunn (Duke),
  • COVID-19 vaccination and positive selection, led by Dan Schrider (UNC),
  • Host specificity of parasites, led by Courtney Werner (Duke),
  • Multidrug resistant phenotypes and antimicrobial resistance evolution, led by Cristina Lanzas (NC State),
  • and SARS-CoV-2 phylodynamics, led by David Rasmussen, John Soghigian, and Jeff Thorne (NC State).

Some participants also worked on ideas for “Clinical Briefs” with the goal of peer-reviewed publication in the journal Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health.

We’re thrilled to have been able to offer EMSI virtually this year and loved interacting with the many exceptional scientists and practitioners that participated! We’re very much forward to offering EMSI in-person again next year (fingers crossed!).

group photo of EMSI participants in Zoom