Northwestern Events Calendar


WED@NICO SEMINAR: Shai Pilosof, University of Chicago "The dynamic and non-neutral population structure of the malaria parasite"

Shai Pilosof

When: Wednesday, October 25, 2017
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM  

Where: Chambers Hall, Lower Level, 600 Foster St, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free

Contact: Yasmeen Khan   847.491.2527

Group: Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO)

Category: Academic



The dynamic and non-neutral population structure of the malaria parasite


Shai Pilosof - James S. McDonnell Foundation for Complex Systems Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Chicago

Talk Abstract:

Populations of the human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, comprise huge genetic diversity of relevance to recognition by the immune system. The population structure of the parasite in genetic, antigenic and temporal dimensions remains an important current question with foreseeable applications for malaria epidemiology. Theory predicts that competition for hosts, mediated by the selection that the immune system imposes on strains, can limit their genetic overlap and structure the parasite population. There is however little evidence for population structure in areas where transmission is endemic and the genetic diversity of the parasite is highly diverse, such as in sub-Saharan Africa. In this talk, I show how we used simulated and empirical networks of genetic similarity between strains to identify signatures of competition between strains, and the role it plays in shaping the genetic structure of the parasite’s population both statically and in time. Our approach is relevant to other dynamic biological systems with frequency-dependent interactions in a highly diverse trait space, and overlapping evolutionary and ecological time scales, such as microbial communities and several pathogen populations.

Speaker Bio:

Shai Pilosof is currently a James S. McDonnell Foundation for Complex Systems postdoctoral scholar at the University of Chicago, ​in the lab of Mercedes Pascual. He is mostly interested in the application of network theory to ecological systems, specifically in the field of disease ecology.

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