My name is Dillon McBride, and I am a pre-candidacy PhD student in the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine at Ohio State. My research interests focus on the evolution of influenza A virus, especially at the human-animal interface to protect public health and mitigate pandemic risk. This past December, I was fortunate enough to attend the first Center for Arbovirus Discovery, Diagnostics, Genomics and Epidemiology (CADDE) genomic epidemiology workshop hosted at the Institute of Tropical Medicine of São Paulo, Brazil. The center is a Brazil-United Kingdom collaborative center to study arboviruses such as yellow fever.
For their first ever genomic epidemiology workshop, CADDE assembled a team of top researchers with expertise in genetic sequencing, bioinformatics, epidemiology, public health and phylodynamics. The workshop included a hands-on training course based on integrating Oxford Nanopore MinION sequencing with genetic data analysis for outbreak investigation.
I was able to learn from field leading scientists about how they apply this technology to disease outbreaks and the tools they development to advance epidemiology and protect public health through the application of genomic sequencing. I practiced the laboratory work required to sequence the genomes of pathogens, the bioinformatics skills necessary to process the data and modern analysis techniques used to evaluate findings.
Although the science kept us busy, we were able to explore and enjoy the rich Brazilian culture as well. The organizers took us to the São Paulo Zoo, where we were able to learn about the research and conservation efforts they have to protect and understand the unique ecosystem of Brazilian rainforests. To top off a week of amazing Brazilian food, the evening of our workshop dinner ended late with music and samba dancing!
The opportunity to learn so much and network with scientists outside of our normal collaborative network was invaluable. About half of the workshop participants were Brazilian. Learning with and from both local scientists, as well as international researchers has given me more friends and colleagues all over the world. The experiences I shared with them in the beautiful city of São Paulo are unforgettable.