UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS
The award is a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship. The title of the work is 'Genomic Variability of Cytomegalovirus in a Clinical Setting'. The purpose of the fellowship is develop a better understanding of and create improved treatment strategies for Human Cytomegalovirus (CMV). CMV is a ubiquitous, opportunistic pathogen with a prevalance of 50-80% in the United States. For most, a CMV infection shows few if any disease manifestations. However, for neonates, transplant recipients, AIDS and cancer patients, CMV infection can cause a range of symptoms, from no overt signs of disease to mental impairment, leucopenia, blindness and death. Additionally, many loci of the CMV genome are found to be hypervariable and there is evidence that infection with multiple CMV genotypes leads to more severe disease. Therefore, I hypothesized that the range of disease manifestations of CMV infections are correlated to the genomic variability of CMV populations during infection. To test this hypothesis, I am measuring the genomic variability of CMV during the course of a renal transplant from CMV+ Donors (D+) to CMV- Recipients (R-). A substantial portion of the genomic population is being sampled by using next generation deep sequencing technology in which mega- to gigabases of sequence information are collected in a single run. Additionally, concurrent studies are being performed by a collaborating group to study the immunological response from the same patient samples, providing valuable insight of the host-pathogen interaction.