Pathogen Genomics

Dr. Daryl Dommans Research Team 

My laboratory uses genomics to investigate how infectious diseases are able to cause pandemics and rapidly spread across the globe. Through this, we hope to guide better control programs that will be much more effective in stemming the spread of disease. We are currently pursuing three major themes which include (1) the transmission dynamics and evolution of pandemic cholera, (2) the genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 across the Mountain West, and (3) applying One Health approaches to understanding antimicrobial resistance.

Domman Lab

Cholera serves as a great model for understanding many aspects of the epidemiology of diarrheal diseases due to the explosive nature of outbreaks and distinctive rice-water stool. Building on our more globally focused investigations of transmission, our focus is moving to how we can utilize this genomic information on spatial scales relevant to public health interventions, such as households or districts. We are also interested in the utility of real-time sequencing to provide independent estimates of key epidemiological parameters, such as R0 and estimates of total number of cases.  With these tools we can provide better predictions on where the next cholera outbreak might occur and we can design rational, evidence-based interventions to stopping cholera in afflicted regions

Beginning in March of 2020, my laboratory rapidly adapted to work on sequencing the genomes of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the current COVID-19 pandemic. Together with Darrell Dinwiddie’s lab (UNM), we are the sequencing and genomics lead for New Mexico and Wyoming and are part of the CDC-SPHERES consortium. We work closely with the NM and WY Departments of Health, Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as regional testing facilities to obtain samples and provide analysis relevant to outbreak analysis and transmission history of the virus across the Mountain West region. In this capacity, we have sequenced nearly 1,000 viral genomes from states across the region. Our goal is to provide actionable data back to our public health officials about how SARS-CoV-2 is spreading within and between communities and states.

We also have a strong interest in applying these genomic epidemiology techniques to understanding how antimicrobial resistance genes are moving through bacterial populations and the pressures that are driving this spread. Inappropriate usage of antimicrobials in both animal and human medicine contributes to rising resistance in key bacterial pathogens, such as Salmonella sp. and Escherichia coli. Since the health of humans is dependent upon the health of the environment and animal health (ie One Health), understanding how AMR genes and resistant pathogens are moving between animal- human-environmental populations is paramount