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The Wirth laboratory blends the scientific environments of the Harvard School of Public Health, the Broad Institute, and collaborators from around the globe to create a unique malaria research and training network that brings together scientists with expertise in molecular biology, genetics, genomics, population genetics, chemistry, cell biology, epidemiology, computational biology, biostatistics, and leading clinicians in infectious diseases and pathology. Leveraging the genomic tools of the human genomic project, the group has applied state of the art technologies and novel approaches to better understand the fundamental biology of the malaria parasite and mechanisms of drug resistance.

The group has been one of the international leaders in technology development for Plasmodium falciparum genotyping and has helped identify over 112,000 genetic singlenucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across the P. falciparum genome. In addition, the group has developed genotyping tools to assess both dense genome-wide analysis of genetic variation (Sequencing Affymetrix Array) and directed genotyping using TaqMan-based assays (molecular barcode), and more recently using High Resolution Melting Analysis based on Idaho Technology. The group also maintains high-throughput capabilities for sample processing, nucleic acid extraction, and PCR-based resequencing of specific genomic regions.

Malaria: Natural Selection and New Medicine

The malaria parasite and its human hosts are locked in an evolutionary arms race. The parasite kills more than a million people every year. Humans fight back with gradual genetic adaptation and better drugs. The parasite then adapts to evolve drug resistance. Watch as immunologist Dyann Wirth and her team at the Harvard School of Public Health study the evolutionary adaptations of Senegalese people and their malaria parasites in the field and in the lab. The scientists are seeking signs of natural selection at a molecular level to help fight malaria in a smarter way.