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Our scientific approach is to study microbial pathogens in the context of their host and disease. To do this, we focus, but not exclusively, on the study of obligate intracellular bacteria with a wide host range to address host specificity as a virulence marker. To do this, we study two bacterial infections with a wide range of hosts, such as tuberculosis and brucellosis. We will try to understand the basis of virulence in a given host, for a better understanding of the virulence of the pathogen. Consequently, our goal is to uncover the role of compatibility between different groups of disease-causing bacteria and their respective hosts in predicting the transmission potential and virulence of certain associations. To approach this, we use a range of different omics where genomics is our main approach to study the evolution and molecular molecular epidemiology of the pathogen. But we also perform experimental infections to discover which genomic determinants are involved in different virulence readouts, using among other approaches transcriptomic of host and pathogen.

Additionally, we are studding viral relevant pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 in multidisciplinary projects where we explore the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 to try to decipher the role of specific genomic determinants in virulence.

Activity

At the moment we focus in one of the deadliest pathogens worldwide, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. M. tuberculosis is genetically heterogeneous, and we aim to identify genetic determinants of M. tuberculosis virulence. We have been developing three main research areas in the field:

M. tuberculosis evolutionary history

One of the key angles of our research is the Mycobacterium tuberculosis genomic diversity, its origin and evolution. We are deciphering the evolution and phylogenetic relationships of the different M. tuberculosis types, including animal adapted ecotypes using evolutionary genomics.

M. tuberculosis evolutionary history

Host-pathogen interactions during tuberculosis disease

We are trying to decipher the role of host-pathogen interaction in the outcome of the disease, by investigating immunological compatibility and immune evasion by antigenic diversity and combining genomics and immunology.

Host-pathogen interactions during tuberculosis disease

Genomic epidemiology

Because a pathogens success depends ultimately on epidemiological transmission, one of our key research areas is genomic epidemiology. We are trying to incorporate bayesian phylodynamics to infer epidemiological parameters not revealed by classical genomic epidemiology. Finally, we would like to correlate genomic determinants of the pathogen to highly transmissible phenotypes.

Genomic epidemiology