Parasite evolution is usually ignored in public health decisions, but we (and others) think it is key to elaborating robust public health policies. A challenge, which can explain this worrying state of affairs, is that epidemiology and evolution need to be studied toguether. Indeed, evolution affects the way parasites spread and in return the epidemiology shapes the selective pressures undergone by parasites. The goal of medical doctors is to cure but that of scientists is to understand, which is why we prefer to ask fundamental questions such as “Why do parasites harm their host?”.
Below are some research projects that are active, less active and sleeping.
Studying the within-host ecology and the evolutionary epidemiology of human papillomaviruses to assess whether the vaccines are “evolution-proof”.
Hosts are often co-infections by more than one parasite strain or species and this greatly affects the expression and evolution of virulence.
For rapidly evolving parasites (such as RNA viruses), the way they spread leads footprints into their genomes. We use ABC methods to infer epidemiological parameters from phylogeny shapes.
For many parasites, the evolution and maintenance of virulence is intruiguing because it seems to decrease the parasite's epidemiological fitness.
Many infection traits are partly governed by the parasite and are as such “heritable” from one infection to the next. We use phylogenies to estimate this trait heritability.
The emergence of new parasites is a stochastic process because the parasite is rare. We study the interplay between parasite evolution and epidemiology to understand such dynamics.