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Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics

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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.
Modernizing malaria research through a new, interdisciplinary approach Huck Institutes faculty researcher Manuel Llinás uses cutting-edge techniques in metabolomics and genomics in effort to beat malaria-causing Plasmodium parasite.
Tim Reluga receives 14th Bellman Prize CIDD researcher Tim Reluga wins the prestigious Bellman prize for 2014, recognizing his paper as the best to be published in Mathematical Biosciences during 2010-2011.
Job Opportunities
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
Bioinformatician (aka Computational Scientist 2/3) The research laboratory of Dr. Moriah Szpara seeks applicants for a scientific programmer, to join a group focused on the genomic variation of human alpha herpes viruses, and their impact on human health. This data specialist will interface with bioinformatics and computational groups within the Huck Institutes for the Life Sciences and the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics. The successful candidate will lead bioinformatic analyses on the genetic variation among virus strains (genome resequencing and genotype-phenotype comparison), as well as analyzing how host cells respond to infection (transcriptomics and RNAseq). A full job description can be found at ( Resources utilized include high-performance computing clusters, local servers, and cloud-based servers such as Galaxy and Amazon EC2. Data is generated by a MiSeq in the lab, as well a central Genomics Core Facility. The successful candidate will work closely with the P.I. and be involved in training others to implement bioformatic analyses. Significant contribution to academic papers and co-authorship is expected. — Posted Apr 11, 2014
Postdoc – Viral genomics and neuronal infection The Szpara laboratory seeks a postdoctoral scholar to join a group focused on the molecular and cell biology of human alpha herpes viruses in neurons, and their impact on human health. Current research programs ongoing in the lab can be found at the laboratory website: Candidates with strong track records of accomplishment in neurobiology, virology, comparative genomics, or advanced cell biology imaging are strongly encouraged to apply. The candidate will be expected to lead their own individual projects as well as contributing to collaborative research efforts. Exceptional opportunities are available for highly motivated candidates who have recently received their Ph.D. and have a strong publication record, regardless of their specific area of expertise. To apply, please submit a resume that includes educational background, publications, and work experience (Ph.D. thesis and beyond), as well as a brief statement (1-2 pages) of research interests and goals to — Posted Apr 11, 2014
Wage Payroll Position Short term wage payroll position needed to import scientific articles related to infectious diseases into a digital library. Once the journal in article is loaded into the system, will need to ensure details such as, journal name, author, dates, etc. are accurately listed in the digital library. Position available immediately in the Millennium Science Complex. Please contact Kelly Powell at 867-4929 or at to set up an appointment with Dr. Szpara. — Posted Apr 11, 2014
Highlights from recent research
Control strategy for Dengue, malaria increases risk of West Nile virus Mosquitoes infected with the bacteria Wolbachia are more likely to become infected with West Nile virus and more likely to transmit the virus to humans, according to a team of researchers.
Quantifying the genomic variation of herpes viruses is a crucial step toward a vaccine Quantifying the genomic variation of herpes viruses is a crucial step toward a vaccine A new study by CIDD's Moriah Szpara and an international team of scientific collaborators begins the process of quantifying variation between the genomes of all known strains of herpes simplex virus (HSV) – a crucial step toward developing an effective vaccine.
All together, now! All together, now! CIDD graduate student Megan Greischar along with faculty, Andrew Read & Ottar Bjornstad, use a mathematical model to investigate why offspring of malaria parasites burst out of host red blood cells simultaneously. This synchronous behavior, which is the cause of the periodic fevers characteristic of malaria infections, has baffled biologists for decades since it could prove damaging to parasite fitness by increasing competition between them.
Novel hepatitis-like viruses discovered in wild rodents, raising hopes for laboratory models of human diseases Novel hepatitis-like viruses discovered in wild rodents, raising hopes for laboratory models of human diseases Kurt Vandegrift and coauthors discover previously unknown hepaciviruses in wild white-footed mice, making the study of hepatitis C and human pegivirus in laboratory mice a possibility for the very first time.
Live life or die trying? The balance between being social & staying healthy during epidemics. Live life or die trying? The balance between being social & staying healthy during epidemics. Tim Reluga uses a game theoretic approach to find the optimal way to behave during epidemics.
» 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

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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