SEP 12, 2018 6:00 AM PDT

Accelerating Tuberculosis Elimination with Genomics

Speaker
  • Assistant Professor, Canada Research Chair in Public Health Genomics, Senior Scientist (Genomics), BC Centre for Disease Control, The University of British Columbia
    Biography
      Dr. Jennifer Gardy is both a scientist and a science communicator. In her scientific life, she's a Senior Scientist in Genomics at the BC Centre for Disease Control and an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, where she holds a Canada Research Chair in Public Health Genomics. Jennifer's lab uses genome sequencing to understand how infectious diseases spread in populations. When she's not studying microbes, Jennifer works in science media. She regularly hosts episodes of CBC Television's long-running science documentary series The Nature of Things, appears as a guest host and contributor on Discovery Chanel's nightly science newsmagazine Daily Planet, and is a frequent guest on many other programs. She wrote a children's book about microbes for OwlKids Books in 2014, and regularly speaks to science graduate students about how to communicate their research effectively.

    Abstract

    The WHO has set ambitious targets for eliminating TB in low-incidence countries such as the US and Canada. While it’s true that the majority of TB cases in these settings arise from reactivation of latent TB infection in persons born outside North America, person-to-person transmission of active TB within the US and Canada also contributes to the burden of disease; thus, reducing TB transmission is an integral part of regional and national TB elimination programs. Recently, whole genome sequencing (WGS) has emerged as a new paradigm for both rapid TB diagnosis and phenotyping, as well as for better identifying clusters of cases representing local transmission and even identifying specific transmission events, giving us an unique perspective on understanding TB transmission. In this talk, I’ll describe how the province of British Columbia, Canada has implemented WGS to better understand our local TB epidemiology and to change TB policy and practice in our setting. Topics to be covered include the role of WGS in the modern reference TB laboratory, methods for inferring transmission from TB genomic data alone, the key role for communication and knowledge translation when implementing WGS in a public health system, and insights gained from our sequencing of over 2000 TB isolates, representing cases diagnosed in BC dating back over a decade.

    Learning Objectives: 

    1. TB is the leading infectious disease killer in the world, despite being treatable.
    2. Drug resistance is an emerging issue in TB, with resistance driven by point mutations. 


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