Oswaldo Cruz Institute
Reference Laboratory of Flavivirus
My research focuses on investigating the patterns of gene flow in pathogen populations, focusing in phylogenetics and phylogeography as tools to recreate and understand the determinants of viral outbreaks and how this information can be translated into public policy recommendations. More specifically, my research focuses on recent arboviral outbreaks in Latin America (Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue and Yellow fever viruses and more recently SARS-CoV-2 in Brazil, Italy and South Africa), combining genetic, spatial and ecological information. I am interested in the epidemiology and ecology of viruses in natural populations. My research involves developing and applying techniques to integrate virus genetic data with traditional clinical and demographic data.
After completing my PhD in molecular evolution of RNA viruses in the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy and performing field work in Sierra Leone with Ebola virus, I’ve started a postdoctoral position in the Laboratory of Prof. Luiz Carlos Junior Alcantara at the Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ), Salvador, Brazil, investigating the evolution of arthropod-borne viruses. I am currently a Post-doctoral fellow at the Regional Reference Laboratory of Flavivirus in the Oswaldo Cruz Institute in the Fundação Oswaldo Cruz in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil working with the ZiBRA-2 project (Zika in Brazil real-time analysis, www.zibra2project.org), a project that aims to improve genomic surveillance of emergent and re-emergent RNA viruses circulating in Brazil. We built upon recent methodological advances in virus nanopore sequencing (e.g. Faria et al., 2017, Nature; Quick et al., 2016, Nature; Faria et al., Science 2018; Giovanetti et al., Cell Report 2020), that gave us the possibility to generate >250 Zika virus genomes from different geographic regions in Brazil, >500 Yellow fever genomes from the recent outbreak in Minas Gerais, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santo and São Paulo, and >250 Chikungunya virus genomes from the Northeast, Southeast and North regions of Brazil. My research focuses on generating these genomes in real-time using nanopore sequencing technology and to analyse large datasets of genetic data to gain insights into the origins and mode of spread of key viral pathogens with significant public health impact.