2015 Workshop


Stumpy-stage Trypanosoma b. brucei with nuclear and kinetoplast DNA stained pink
Stumpy-stage Trypanosoma b. brucei with nuclear and kinetoplast DNA stained pink; K. Matthews

Natural selection operates on the ecological dynamics of parasites both within hosts and across host populations. Our NSF-funded Research Coordination Network (RCN) integrates theoretical and empirical tools to study these cross-scale dynamics and explain heterogeneities in parasite life cycles, virulence and efficacy of control.

A major challenge is to identify relevant and tractable immune parameters to inform our understanding of within-host dynamics.

The main objective of this workshop was to characterize dynamics of immune killing in relation to the effectors that target parasites, from vector-borne trypanosomes and malaria to directly-transmitted helminths and trophically-transmitted toxoplasmosis.

By embedding ourselves in Woods Holes Immunoparasitology (WHIP) conference, we tapped into broad and deep immunoparasitological expertise in an informal and highly interactive setting on Cape Cod. WHIP 2015 link »

Primary questions that were considered during the workshop: Do parasite species that differ in mode of transmission experience differential types/strengths of immune selection? How heterogeneous are the immune responses induced by different parasite strains within species? When does cross-reactivity of immune responses lead to apparent competition versus competitive release of different parasite genotypes? What are the most relevant yet tractable metrics that predict strength and timing of immune selection? What are the appropriate functional forms for understanding and modelling immune selection?

What was expected of workshop participants?
Workshop participants presented relevant data and/or theory in short formal presentations, and participated fully in discussions and the real-time development of statistical, mathematical and experimental approaches to studying the evolution of infectious diseases.  The RCN supported WHIP registration, travel and subsistence 20 participants. 
Location/date: Woods Hole, MA / April 19-22, 2015

Leader: Andrea L. Graham, Princeton University