New host-microbe institute connects campus researchers

New host-microbe institute connects campus researchers

Esther Angert/Cornell Microbiology, CALS
Epulopiscium sp., the large cigar-shaped cells seen here, are giant bacterial symbionts of the tropical marine surgeonfish Naso tonganus.

The university has launched the Cornell Institute of Host-Microbe Interactions and Disease(CIHMID), an umbrella organization that brings together the wide-ranging community of Cornell researchers studying host-microbe biology and disease.

“The scope of the institute is host-microbe interactions ranging from beneficial to pathogenic in plant and animal hosts,” said Brian Lazzaro, the institute’s director and professor of entomology and of ecology and evolutionary biology.

The institute will provide a hub for researchers distributed across campus, and will initially include faculty from the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), Arts and Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, Engineering and Human Ecology. It will likely expand to Weill Cornell Medicine in New York in the future.

Research areas cover beneficial and pathogenic interactions between hosts (plants and animals) and microbes (bacteria, viruses and fungi), including veterinary immunology, clinical research, agriculture, natural systems and basic research.

“We have a lot of people doing this kind of work at Cornell,” Lazzaro said. “By nature of the distribution [of researchers across campus] it means we can have more people working in these different areas without overloading a particular unit. But it also means people can be dispersed, and that’s not always optimal for interdisciplinary collaboration and communication.”

To start, the institute will offer:

  • a postdoctoral fellows program with two-year appointments, where postdoc researchers will be encouraged to bridge disciplines and groups;
  • a seminar series that will fund and invite high-profile speakers to campus;
  • undergraduate research internships;
  • facilitation and support for applying for large center grants, training grants and multiple-principal investigator grants among CIHMID faculty;
  • an annual research symposium; and

The institute will take advantage of existing graduate curricula, and will be affiliated with the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Master of Public Health program and the new Cornell-led Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector Borne Diseases in the Department of Entomology.

The CIHMID is funded by CALS, the Office of the Provost, and the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.

This article is written by Krishna Ramanujan and was published in the Cornell Chronicle on January 19, 2017.

$10M CDC grant funds center to fight vector borne diseases

Managing mosquito-borne viruses, such as West Nile, Dengue, Zika and tick-borne Lyme disease have been a challenge due to lack of resources, knowledge and trained expertise. To better understand, prevent and treat diseases passed from insects to people, the Cornell-led Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector Borne Diseases will launch later…

Continue reading

Haiti, Hurricanes and Cholera: a One Health Approach

Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti on October 4, 2016 and has acted as a deadly catalyst upon the country’s worsening cholera epidemic. The outbreak began in 2010 after the catastrophic earthquake, when contaminated waste from a United Nations peacekeeping base entered a nearby river.  In order to understand this epidemic from…

Continue reading

Symposium looks at veterinary medicine in public health

The Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) hosted the seventh annual Veterinary Public Health Symposium Sept. 9-11. Organized by student members of the Cornell Veterinary Public Health Association, the symposium featured talks by a broad range of veterinarians, epidemiologists and public health officials. The symposium commenced with the annual Poppensiek Lecture,…

Continue reading

Lambert aids in Zika virus rapid diagnostic test development

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.37.59 PMAn international, multi-institutional team of researchers that included Guillaume Lambert, a Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow in Applied and Engineering Physics at the College of Engineering, has developed a low-cost, rapid paper-based diagnostic system for strain-specific detection of the Zika virus, with the goal that it could soon be used in the field to screen blood, urine, or saliva samples.

A team made up of experts from Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Toronto, Arizona State University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Boston University, Cornell University and Addgene joined their efforts to quickly prototype a rapid diagnostic test to detect the Zika virus.

“The growing global health crisis caused by the Zika virus propelled us to leverage novel technologies we have developed in the lab and use them to create a workflow that could diagnose a patient with Zika, in the field, within 2-3 hours,” said James Collins, Ph.D. at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and one of the study’s authors.

This summary has been adapted from the original article published in CornellEngineering. Read the full article here.

Cornell experts team up with WHO

zikaCornell nutritional sciences professors Julia Finkelstein and Saurabh Mehta are leading an international team assembled by the WHO to study the risks of Zika virus transmission through breast milk. Finkelstein and Mehta’s previous research similar viruses and their work on HIV in pregnancy and breastfeeding puts them both in an excellent position to conduct this crucial study. Finkelstein explains that confronting the Zika virus and its transmission requires a One Health, public health approach: “We urgently need a holistic approach at every level, including better diagnostics, surveillance, prevention and public health interventions that include vaccines, vector control and effective treatment.”

This summary has been adapted from the original article published in the Cornell Chronicle. Find the full story here.

Cornell to launch new Master of Public Health program

By Krishna Ramanujan Originally posted in the Cornell Chronicle on June 21, 2016 Outbreaks of Zika and Ebola, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, foodborne diseases and chronic illnesses are constantly in the news, making comprehensive public health assessment, planning and action crucial to the future of the planet. Starting in the fall 2017 semester, Cornell…

Continue reading

Expanding Horizons: International Program for DVM students

Dr. Karel A. Schat is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the College of Veterinary Medicine. He has won numerous awards for his work in avian virology, including the Beecham Award for Research Excellence, the Upjohn Achievement Award, the Pfizer Award for Excellence in Poultry…

Continue reading

Gary Whittaker (MPH, Disease)

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Professor of Virology in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the College of Veterinary Medicine Whittaker’s research focus is on the entry of influenza viruses, rhaboviurses and coronaviruses into host cells. In addition, Whittaker is a primary faculty member working with the MPH program. Read his full bio here.

Continue reading

Renata Ivanek (MPH, Epidemiology)

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Associate Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine Ivanek’s research focus is in public health and epidemiology of infectious and foodborne diseases. Her epidemiological approaches include mathematical modeling of infectious diseases, spatial analyses of landscape and weather data, statistical modeling,…

Continue reading