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Pathogen Dynamics Through a Phylogenetic Lens - Zooming into the Spread of Ebola, Diphtheria, Tuberculosis, Influenza and HIV

Genetic sequencing data contain a fingerprint of past evolutionary and population dynamic processes. Phylogenetic methods infer evolutionary relationships — the phylogenetic tree — between individuals based on their genetic sequences. Phylodynamics aims to understand the population dynamic processes — such as epidemiological processes — giving rise to the phylogenetic tree. I will present the mathematical and computational aspects of our recently developed phylodynamic tools for understanding the evolution and epidemic spread of pathogens. In particular, I will highlight our insights into the evolution and epidemic spread of Ebola, Diphtheria, Tuberculosis, Influenza and HIV. I will end the talk touching upon phylodynamic applications beyond epidemiology, such as immunology, developmental biology, and macroevolution.

Type of Seminar:
Control Seminar Series
Prof. Tanja Stadler
ETH Zurich
May 29, 2017   5.15pm

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Biographical Sketch:
Tanja Stadler is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich) in Basel since 2014. Tanja studied Applied Mathematics at the Technical University of Munich (Germany), the University of Cardiff (UK), and the University of Canterbury (New Zealand). She obtained a Master degree in 2006 and a PhD in 2008 from the Technical University of Munich (with Prof. Anusch Taraz and Prof. Mike Steel). Tanja then joined ETH Zürich as a postdoctoral researcher with Prof. Sebastian Bonhoeffer in the Department of Environmental Systems Sciences, and was promoted to Group Leader in 2011. Her work is at the interface of mathematics, computer science, evolution, ecology and infectious diseases. In particular, she develops phylogenetic tools to address epidemiological and medical questions, as well as questions in the fields of ecology, species evolution, cell differentiation and language evolution. Her honors include the TUM PhD award 2008, the John Maynard Smith prize 2012, the ETH Latsis prize 2013, and the Zonta prize 2013. In 2013, Tanja received an ERC starting grant.