1. DVH Integrative Molecular Epidemiology of Viral Hepatitis
Y. E. Khudyakov
Viral hepatitis is a major global public health problem. Of approximately 2 billion people who have been infected worldwide with hepatitis B virus (HBV), more than 350 million are chronic carriers. HBV infection accounts for 0.5 – 1.2 million deaths worldwide. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is another universal agent infecting about 170 million individuals worldwide. Both viruses share common routes of transmission and frequently cause chronic infections. Hepatitis A is a relatively common infectious disease in the United States. About 25, 000 – 35, 000 symptomatic cases were reported each year during past decades. There are robust vaccines against HAV and HBV infections. However, HCV tenaciously defies all efforts to develop vaccine against this virus. The recent advancement in understanding complexity of viral populations in infected patients and the latest progress in human genome sequencing propelled the rise of integrative molecular epidemiology as a new global area of research that promises development of complex models of interaction between viral and host genomes and novel approaches to diagnostics, prophylaxis and therapy of viral diseases. This project provides an opportunity to conduct computational and experimental research in integrative molecular epidemiology of viral hepatitis. The fellow will participate in research on genetic polymorphism of hepatitis viruses, with major emphasis on HCV, and identification of host and viral factors affecting outcomes of viral infections and therapy, responsible for immune escape and drug resistance, and defining molecular evolution of hepatitis viruses in different epidemiological settings. The fellow will have an opportunity to participate in outbreak investigations, molecular surveillance studies and development of new approaches to vaccines.