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Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics

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Epidemics MOOC launches again on September 29, 2014 Released on the Coursera platform in 2013, “Epidemics – the Dynamics of Infectious Diseases” was the first MOOC to address the ecology of infectious diseases. The Penn State course launches again on 29 Sept 2014.
Elyse E. Munoz Receives the ASM Robert D. Watkins Graduate Research Fellowship Elyse E. Munoz, a Ph.D. genetics graduate student in the laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology faculty member, Scott Lindner, was named a 2014-2017 recipient of a Robert D. Watkins Graduate Research Fellowship
Ottar N. Bjørnstad named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Ottar N. Bjørnstad, professor of entomology, biology and statistics at Penn State, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed by peers upon members of the AAAS, the world's largest general scientific society and the publisher of the journal Science.
Job Opportunities
Postdoctoral Position in Bacterial Pathogenesis, Host and Microbiota A Postdoctoral Research Fellow position is available in Penn State’s Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics. The position involves analysis of the complex interactions between an invading pathogen and the resident microbiota. Our lab examines interactions between bacterial pathogens and host holobiome. We have developed experimental systems that can allow the detailed examination of molecular-level interactions in vivo, during natural-host infection. The current project will examine how the various players interact to show, for example, how one pathogen can be blocked by the resident microbiota but another can efficiently invade and displace the resident microbiota. The fertile areas of study include the various contributions of host immune functions and physiology, bacterial pathogenic mechanisms as well as the complex interactions of each with the resident microbes of the respiratory tract. We seek an individual with strong background in microbiology and molecular biology. Individuals with experience and/or interest in immunology, experimental infections and/or bacterial genomics are particularly encouraged. Qualifications: Ph.D. in the relevant areas of expertise, with a strong quantitative and statistical background and good oral and written English proficiency. Multiple publications in English language journals should represent evidence of prior productivity. To apply, send a cover letter describing your reasons for interest in the position, with CV and names of at least three references to — Posted Oct 16, 2014
Postdoctoral Researcher - Adaptive Management of Foot-and-Mouth Disease A postdoctoral position funded by the NSF-NIH-USDA-BBSRC Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease (EEID) Program is available with Dr. Matthew Ferrari ( and Dr. Katriona Shea ( in the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics ( and the Department of Biology at the Pennsylvania State University ( The position involves the development and application of Adaptive Management (AM) to important diseases (including foot-and-mouth disease in livestock and measles in humans). AM, “management with a plan for learning about the system”, combines real-time model fitting, based on dynamic surveillance data, with stochastic optimization to select the best management action to optimize management outcomes conditional on the current support for competing models. This project will involve development and analysis of mechanistic epidemiological management models in order to assess intervention strategies using structured decision theory. A Ph.D. in Quantitative Ecology, Population Biology, Applied Mathematics, Statistics or an equivalent area is required. Expertise in stochastic optimization, optimal control theory, statistical computing or related topics is highly desirable. Candidates should demonstrate a track record of publication; have strong organizational, written, and oral communication skills; and be able to work both independently and as part of a collaborative team. This project will engage directly with agency stakeholders; thus, an ideal candidate will have a demonstrated ability to effectively communicate quantitative analysis to a non-technical audience. This position is initially funded for one year, with possibility of a second year. For further information, please feel free to contact Dr Ferrari (; +1 814- 865-6080) or Dr. Shea (; +1 814-865-7910). Interested applicants should submit a curriculum vitae, a 1-2 page statement of research interests that explicitly describes professional qualifications for this position, and contact information for three referees. Penn State requires all applicants to register and complete the application form at the Penn State employment website Review of applications will begin 1 November 2014, and continue until a suitable candidate is found. Employment will require successful completion of background check(s) in accordance with University policies. CAMPUS SECURITY CRIME STATISTICS: For more about safety at Penn State, and to review the Annual Security Report which contains information about crime statistics and other safety and security matters, please go to, which will also provide you with detail on how to request a hard copy of the Annual Security Report. Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to minorities, women, veterans, disabled individuals, and other protected groups. — Posted Oct 06, 2014
Post-Doctoral Scholar in Molecular Parasitology The Lindner Lab at Penn State University ( is recruiting an outstanding post-doctoral scientist to become a part of our efforts to characterize the mechanisms of transmission and infectivity of malaria parasites (Plasmodium spp.) between mammals and mosquitoes. The Lindner Lab uses cutting edge approaches to conduct discovery phase research with the aim of identifying weaknesses in the parasite that can be exploited therapeutically. To date our work has focused upon protein-RNA interactions that lead to translational repression of targeted mRNAs and a preferred RNA homeostasis, which are critical for efficient transmission and infectivity (See PMID 23325771 and 23421981). We are currently seeking a post-doctoral scientist who will focus upon discovering the mechanism(s) of action of these complexes in both human- and mouse-infective Plasmodium species. We are looking for Ph.D.-level candidates (or those who will receive their degree in the next 4-6 months) who are well trained in a related field (e.g. molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry, structural biology, microbiology, parasitology). Candidates will have at least two first-author papers in peer-reviewed journals (either published or accepted), will have strong experience in basic molecular biology and microbiology techniques, and will be willing to work with mice and mosquitoes. Above all, candidates must have a strong work ethic, superb organizational skills, and a keen attention to detail in order to be successful in this position. Preferred candidates will have experience in some of the following areas: working with mice/mosquitoes, working in tissue culture, working in structural biology (x-ray crystallography, computational approaches), working with eukaryotic parasites (e.g. Plasmodium, Toxoplasma, Trypanosomes), and/or working with “Big Data” experiments (NGS, Mass Spec, data management). The Lindner Lab is part of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the main campus of Penn State University (University Park, PA), and is outfitted with several exceptional core facilities, including a world-class insectary. We are also a part of the Center for Malaria Research (CMaR) at Penn State, which is a collaborative community of 12 research groups that investigate the entire life cycle of the parasite, as well as host-parasite interactions. We are also a part of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics (CIDD) and Center for Molecular Immunology and Infectious Disease (CMIID) to contribute to / benefit from our colleagues who are pursuing other pathogens and experimental strategies. The successful candidate will be offered competitive salary and benefits packages, as well as considerable professional development opportunities. — Posted May 06, 2014
Highlights from recent research
Temperature and an immune-boosting diet affect infection intensity in malaria-vectoring mosquitoes Temperature and an immune-boosting diet affect infection intensity in malaria-vectoring mosquitoes Successful transmission of malaria parasites requires a complex interplay between the mosquito vector, malaria parasites and the environment. Malaria parasites have an intricate life cycle, encountering defenses produced by hosts and vectors, including the immune responses of mosquitoes. Understanding the relationship between vectors and the parasites they transmit is important and may vary by environmental factors, potentially affecting the efficacy of our control methods. Temperature is one important environmental factor that affects the development of malaria parasites and mosquitoes. Although temperature varies across and within different environments, most lab work is performed at constant temperatures, resulting in research that may not accurately reflect what is occurring in the field.
Elyse Munoz and Scott Lindner study the malaria parasite Elyse Muñoz -- a Ph.D. candidate in the Huck Institutes' Genetics program -- and Scott Lindner, an assistant professor of biochemistry & molecular biology at Penn State, study the malaria parasite.
Matt Ferrari studies long-term trends in childhood infectious diseases Matt Ferrari -- an assistant professor of biology and statistics at Penn State and a researcher in the Huck Institutes' Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics -- studies long-term trends in childhood infectious diseases.
Disease dynamics during wildlife translocations: disruptions to the host population and potential consequences for transmission in desert tortoise contact networks Disease dynamics during wildlife translocations: disruptions to the host population and potential consequences for transmission in desert tortoise contact networks Translocation, a practice currently used for species conservation, may detrimentally alter population dynamics and aid in pathogen transmission. Graduate student Christina Aiello and CIDD’s Peter Hudson explore the necessity for more complex risk assessment parameters to improve intervention strategies.
‘Microbial conflict’ inside mosquitoes limits Wolbachia infection ‘Microbial conflict’ inside mosquitoes limits Wolbachia infection Approximately 70 percent of all arthropods are infected with Wolbachia, a genus of bacteria that has received wide attention for unusual forms of host manipulation and potential to control vector-borne diseases. However, applications of Wolbachia as a control-agent for some species of mosquito vectors has thus far been limited because of difficulty in getting infections to persist and spread in the non-native Anopholes host. Promising new research led by Grant Hughes and Jason Rasgon of Penn State’s Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics has led to the discovery of why some mosquitoes may be less susceptible to transinfection with this bacteria, potentially instrumental in the development of Wolbachia-based vector control methods.
» More Highlights from recent research
Millennium Science Complex

Millennium Science Complex as viewed from Pollock Field.

Many CIDD faculty and their research groups have re-located to Penn State’s new Millennium Science Complex. This is a state-of-the art research facility which will become the gateway for interdisciplinary research between the Life Sciences and the Material Sciences’ faculty and students.

Find out more about the building.

From proteins to pandemics

CIDD brings together scientists in a range of complementary disciplines to innovate in infectious disease research.

More about CIDD

Monday discussion/tutorial
Malarial Infection of the Human(ized) Liver: Forward Screens for Critical Host Factors Dr. Scott Lindner, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, will lead the discussion.
Upcoming events

CIDD seminars are publicized on the Huck Institutes website

Monday discussions are held every Monday at 12pm in W-203 Millennium Science Complex

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