We work on several evolutionary topics

Resistance transmission dynamics

The spread of antibiotic resistance within hospital settings is a gruesome global concern, and a major threat to modern medicine. As patients spend prolonged times in the hospital, the likelihood of acquiring an infection with an antibiotic resistant pathogen increases as well. To prevent such grim scenario, it is vital to better understand the transmission dynamics of resistant bacteria among humans, and between humans and the clinical environment. Furthermore, it also remains crucial to elucidate how antimicrobial treatments – implemented to counter bacterial infections – themselves affect and potentiate the transmission of resistant variants .The Woods Lab implements genomic and epidemiological analysis of clinical samples and data to find transmission patterns of resistance in the clinic and how they relate to antimicrobial use, with the overarching goal of preventing these events from happening in the first place.

Antibiotic resistance evolution

The possibility of using antibiotics to treat or prevent bacterial infections is a cornerstone of modern life and medicine. Yet, bacteria readily resist antimicrobial treatments by means of evolution. Indeed, the highly toxic treatments aiming at eradicating bacteria, concomitantly select for resistant variants, and ultimately ease their spread. As this is in essence an evolutionary process, it is thus key to incorporate evolutionary thinking into medical practice to prevent or at least slow down the evolution of antibiotic resistance. The Woods Lab aims at better understanding the underlying dynamics of resistance evolution within patients and how distinct evolutionary principles could be exploited in distinct treatment strategies in a clinically relevant way. To this aim, we employ experimental evolution, and genomic and genetic analysis of clinical isolates from diverse species to test and design treatment strategies informed by evolution that can eventually be translated into clinical practice.

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