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School and Program Updates

School and Program Updates

South Florida Genomics: Innovative, Investigative and Interdisciplinary

The University of South Florida Genomics Program welcomes seven new faculty members

What’s does genomics — the study of an organism’s DNA — have to do with public health?

More than you might think.

“Public health research, practice and policy are inseparable from genomics,” said Dr. Rays Jiang, a systems biologist and University of South Florida College of Public Health assistant professor of global health who is also part of the genomics faculty. “For example, the COPH’s Dr. Monica Uddin is involved in trauma genomic research that has implications for veterans’ health, mental health and public health practice and policies. And our world-class infectious disease research has a direct impact on global infectious disease control and prevention.”

The USF Genomics Program is a new multi-college program directed by Dr. John Adams, a COPH professor of global health, that operates through the COPH’s global health strategic area. It includes faculty from the COPH, Morsani College of MedicineCollege of NursingCollege of Arts and Sciences and College of Marine Science.

While the COPH is the official home of the genomics program, its reach goes well beyond it.

“We have a unique combination of faculties across the entire USF system engaging in diverse research fields, including infectious diseases, microbiome research, reproductive health, mental health, ecology and marine sciences,” explained Dr. Jiang. “Our vibrant genomics program is united by the drive of sharing cutting-edge technologies, and by exploring new frontiers of intersections of conventionally different fields. Our core value is to foster research talents in genomics, and our strategy is to leverage our unique geographical and research opportunities in Tampa Bay.”

Given the fact that Florida is now considered a “gateway” for infectious diseases, some of those research opportunities will focus on emerging infections like the Zika virus.

“Our strong infectious disease team is actively developing programs related to vector-borne diseases that link the state’s department of health, vector ecology and genomics,” Dr, Jiang said. “We are also gaining new ground on human genomics research, with new faculty members such as Dr. Xiaoming Liu specializing in human evolutionary genomics, Dr. Derek Wildman in evolutionary/reproductive genomics and Dr. Monica Uddin in public health trauma epigenomics. To push the program to the technological cutting edge, USF genomics [led by Dr. Jiang] is also developing novel capacities by joining forces with research computing and biological engineering.”