The next lecture in Louisiana Tech University’s New Frontiers in Biomedical Research Series will be given by Dr. Taj Azarian, Assistant Professor at the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences in the University of Central Florida’s College of Medicine.
Azarian’s presentation, titled “Meaningful use of pathogen genomic data: Tracking bacterial mobile elements using published sequences,” will take place at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 23 in University Hall. The event is free and open to the public.
Prior to becoming a faculty member at the University of Central Florida, Azarian was a postdoctoral research fellowship in the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He has authored over 17 publications and two book chapters since starting his academic career. Prior to receiving his PhD from the University of Florida in 2015, he worked as an infectious disease epidemiologist for the Florida Department of Health (FDOH). He also completed a two-year Florida Epidemic Intelligence Service fellowship with FDOH.
Currently, Azarian’s research integrates classical epidemiology with bacterial whole-genome sequencing, pathogen genomics, and phylogenetic analysis to address pressing clinical and public health questions. In 2013, he received a NCATS Clinical and Translational Science Award to pursue his PhD research focusing on the genomic epidemiology of antibiotic resistant staph infections in Neonatal Intensive Care Units. He has also worked on several other pathogens including Vibrio cholerae, Neisseria meningitidis, HIV, and Ebola.
Azarian’s lab uses sequences the genomes of various pathogens in order to investigate the emergence and spread of bacterial infectious diseases, with a specific interest in antibiotic-resistant pathogens that are frequent causes of healthcare-associated infections. To accomplish this, researchers use a variety of tools including epidemiology, bioinformatics, computational biology, population genomics, and phylogenetics. The lab’s goal is to understand the factors that contribute to pathogen success and to develop new genomic epidemiological methods to detect, monitor, and combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.
Azarian has been working closely with Louisiana Tech, GSU, and LSUHS since June 2021 when the Rockefeller Foundation funded them and others at the Harvard/MIT Broad Institute and the University of Wisconsin to engage local communities in monitoring the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. These teams of faculty met regularly for over a year over Zoom to discuss research, ways to engage with the community, and opportunities to support community health. More information on this collaboration can be found at: https://www.latech.edu/2021/06/14/tech-to-partner-with-gsu-lsuhs-to-track-covid-19-variants/.
All New Frontiers in Biomedical Research seminars are free and open to the public. Seminars begin at 3:30 p.m. at University Hall on the Louisiana Tech campus and are followed by a reception to meet the speaker. For more information on the series check out our website at: community.latech.edu/new-frontiers/ or contact Dr. Jamie Newman at email@example.com or Caldorera-Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.