Broad Institute, Cambridge, USA
Christina Cuomo, Ph.D. is an associate director and senior group leader at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Dr. Cuomo’s group uses genomic methods to study the evolution of fungal pathogens, providing insights into the unique features of pathogenic species, how genomes evolve, variation with pathogen populations, and genes involved in host interaction. Her work is highly collaborative, engaging a global network of teams of computational biologists, experimental scientists, clinicians and field researchers.
In less than a decade, C. auris has emerged in healthcare settings worldwide; this species is capable of colonizing skin and causing outbreaks of invasive candidiasis. In contrast to other Candida species, C. auris is unique in its ability to spread via nosocomial transmission and its high rates of drug resistance. As part of the public health response, whole-genome sequencing has played a major role in characterizing transmission dynamics and detecting new C. auris introductions. Through a global collaboration, we assessed genome evolution of isolates of C. auris from 19 countries. We described estimated timing of the expansion of each C. auris clade and of fluconazole resistance, characterized discrete phylogeographic population structure of each clade, and compared genome data to sensitivity measurements to describe how antifungal resistance mechanisms vary across the population. These efforts are critical for a sustained, robust public health response that effectively utilizes molecular epidemiology.
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