Dr Kirstyn Brunker
- Research Associate (Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health & Comparative Medicine)
I am interested in the application of genomics within One Health-based systems to improve animal and human pathogen surveillance and management. In particular, my research vision is to use genomics approaches to improve the detection, control and prevention of long-standing endemic diseases that impose significant health and financial burdens on communities in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs).
You can follow my latest research developments on Twitter: @kirstynbrunker
Genomic surveillance of rabies virus
Genomic surveillance has rapidly emerged as a powerful tool for infectious disease surveillance, providing unprecedented insights into pathogen evolution and transmission, and guiding control and prevention strategies. My research involves developing methods to generate and analyse molecular sequence data from samples collected from suspect rabid animals.
Rabies is a fatal viral zoonosis widespread throughout Asia and Africa, disproportionately affecting rural and impoverished populations. Mass vaccination of domestic dogs has eliminated rabies in high-income countries and research demonstrates that elimination of dog-mediated rabies in LMICs is also feasible. A global campaign is underway to eliminate dog-mediated rabies, for which effective surveillance is essential, with genomic surveillance likely to have particular utility during the endgame.
Well-resourced laboratory facilities are often distant from animal-human interfaces where there is a high risk of disease transmission. As a consequence delays in detection, diagnosis and control of pathogens are common. I am leading the development of a field-based genomics surveillance platform for rabies virus based on a lab-in-a-suitcase approach to overcome limitations in resource-poor settings where diseases such as rabies are a major public health concern. This work involves providing training opportunities to build local genomics capacity in LMICS, including MinION sequencing training workshops held in Kenya, Philippines and Peru in 2019.
My aim is to develop affordable tools and protocols to support rabies surveillance and control programmes in LMICs that can serve as a blueprint for tackling emerging and neglected viral diseases more broadly.
- STEM ambassador and regularly participate in Glasgow Science Festival engagement activities.
- IBAHCM and United Glasgow FC, an organisation embracing diversity by bringing the community together through the common interest of football.
Grants and Awards listed are those received whilst working with the University of Glasgow.
- Implementing genomic surveillance to support SARS-CoV-2 control and mitigation strategies in the Philippines
Medical Research Council
2020 - 2022
- Moving from laboratory-based to real-time genomic surveillance of canine rabies virus in the field.
Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
2017 - 2017
- Tracing transmission pathways of endemic canine rabies (ISSF Catalyst)
2014 - 2015