Lab website: anderson-lab.com/
Lab and Location: A research opportunity in computational biology is available with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in the Virus and Prion Research Unit at the National Animal Disease Center (NADC) located in Ames, Iowa. The NADC is a flagship laboratory facility conducting animal health research at USDA-ARS. The ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency with a mission to find solutions to agricultural problems that affect Americans every day from field to table. ARS will deliver cutting-edge, scientific tools, and innovative solutions for American farmers, producers, industry, and communities to support the nourishment and well-being of all people; sustain our nation’s agroecosystems and natural resources; and ensure the economic competitiveness and excellence of our agriculture. The vision of the agency is to provide global leadership in agricultural discoveries through scientific excellence.
Research Project: The postdoc project will investigate the evolutionary dynamics of influenza A virus (IAV) at human and swine interfaces through computational analyses of IAV in support of a contract between USDA-ARS and the University of Pennsylvania Center for Excellence in Influenza Research and Response (CEIRR), which is part of the NIH NIAID CEIRR collaborative network. Scientists on this project maintain a comprehensive IAV research program including investigation of virulence mechanisms, vaccinology, immunology, and virus evolution. The postdoc will interact with a dynamic community of scientists across the CEIRR network, ARS scientists, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and research technicians.
Goals for the project are to quantify drivers of IAV evolution in the swine host using data generated from coordinated active IAV surveillance in swine and human populations, along with public data from passive USDA IAV in swine surveillance. We will investigate virus properties that confer greater capacity to infect and transmit in swine and that may spillover and cause pandemics in humans. The studies will measure ongoing evolution of contemporary swine IAV isolates and quantify genetic and antigenic divergence from current human seasonal IAV, candidate vaccine viruses used for pandemic preparedness, or swine IAV vaccine strains. These studies will identify divergent swine IAV strains for use during in vivo and in vitro laboratory experimentation conducted by collaborators. These data will determine genetic predictors of influenza host range and virulence, facilitate our understanding of the genetic and antigenic variability of endemic swine IAV, and be used to develop a framework for predicting the pandemic potential of swine IAV as it transmits among hosts and across landscapes. An additional goal is the development of bioinformatic tools or analytical pipelines that quantify the diversity of IAV in swine to deploy in online databases or interactive websites.
The qualified candidate should have received a doctoral degree in Life Health and Medical Sciences, Computer, Information, and Data Sciences, or Mathematics and Statistics; or be currently pursuing the degree with completion by the end of January 2022. Degree must have been received within the past five years. Preferred skills: Experience in bioinformatics/computational biology; Experience in virology, population genetics, molecular biology, or using Bayesian approaches to study the evolutionary dynamics of infectious diseases; Experience in the use of scripting languages (e.g. python, R, bash, perl) and biologic databases and other bioinformatic tools.