Working Group in Pathogenic and Commensal Organisms
Organizers are Steve Meshnick, Katia Koelle, Jeff Thorne, and Corbin Jones. A variety of epidemiological approaches are currently being used to track infectious disease outbreaks and identify pathways by which pathogens spread at the level of the host population. With advances in sequencing technologies, pathogen genetic data have become increasingly available over the years. While epidemiologists, virologists, and other infectious disease researchers are increasingly considering pathogen sequence data to address the fundamental questions of concern to them, it is clear from published studies that the quantitative interpretation of pathogen phylogenies and calculated population genetic metrics by a subset of these researchers can still be considerably improved. Evolutionary biologists, on the other hand, are often naïve in their understanding of epidemiological issues such as selection bias and confounding, while having a firm grasp on the interpretation of genetic data. Thus, the purpose of this meeting is to bring together experts in infectious disease with experts in phylogenetics/population genetics across the Triangle. The primary aim is for both sets of researchers to develop a more in-depth appreciation of the complexities and issues surrounding the use of pathogen genetic data in infectious disease research.