What we do

Individual Variation In Health During Infection

From Genes To Individuals To Populations

 

Infection is one of the largest sources of mortality worldwide. This problem remains hard to solve in part because hosts vary substantially in their individual responses to infection, with important, but largely unpredictable consequences for disease spread and evolution. Research in the Vale lab addresses the causes and consequences of individual variation in health during infection.

Broadly, we want to know why there is so much variation in 1) how sick individuals get; 2) how sick individuals make others; and 3) how pathogens evolve in response to this variation.

Most of our work uses the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as model of invertebrate immunity during systemic and chronic infections by both viral and bacterial pathogens. Drosophila is the ideal model system to address this challenging problem, as it is arguably one of the best models of genetics, immunity, infection, and behaviour, along with a so far untapped potential as a model for experimental epidemiology. The overall aim of our research is to measure and integrate variation at all these levels, in order to understand how individual changes at the genomic level may impact the health of individuals and populations when faced with infection.

You can read more about our ongoing projects here.