Professor Edward Holmes
A12 - Macleay Building
The University of Sydney
|Telephone||+61 2 9351 5591|
|Fax||+61 2 9351 3890|
|Curriculum vitae||Curriculum vitae|
I joined the University of Sydney in October 2012. Prior to moving here, I worked at Penn State University (2005-2012), the University of Oxford, where I was also a Fellow of New College (1993-2004), the University of Edinburgh (1991-1993), and the University of California, Davis (1990-1991). My Ph.D. is from the University of Cambridge (1990), and I also have an undergraduate degree from University College London (1986).
I have spent most of my scientific career undertaking research aimed at revealing the principle patterns and processes of viral evolution and emergence. Although I still find work of this type fascinating, and I will continue to explore these themes, I want the molecular evolution and epidemiology I pursue to have a more direct and measurable impact on public and animal health. This will be my primary goal at the University of Sydney.
I am an evolutionary biologist who has worked on viruses and other microbes for over 20 years. My main research theme has been to determine the mechanisms by which viruses emerge in new host species, their patterns and dynamics of spread through populations, and their major mechanisms of evolutionary change. My main research tool has been the evolutionary (largely phylogenetic) analysis of gene sequence data. As case studies I have worked on a number of important viruses of humans and other animals, such as HIV, influenza, dengue, rabies and myxoma. I have also published on a number of bacterial diseases. A good summary of my research and ideas can be found in my book on viral evolution.
Please email me if you are interested in joining my exciting research group or wish to discuss specific areas of my research program.
Although we have broad interests in the evolution, emergence and epidemiology of microbial pathogens our current research is centered around three main themes:
The Evolution of Viral Emergence
Much of our research is devoted to understanding the evolutionary mechanisms by which viruses cross species boundaries and emerge in new hosts. For example, why is it that influenza viruses are able to jump to humans from birds and pigs, and sometimes spread widely among us, while viruses like Ebola or West Nile seem unable to? We are interested in determining why some types of virus seem intrinsically better able to cross species boundaries than others and the evolutionary determinants of this process. Knowledge of this kind is essential because it will help us to predict, prevent, and control major disease epidemics in the future. As case studies we are employing a diverse range of human and animal viruses. We are also interested in using evolutionary informed methods to control pathogens (‘evolutionarily informed disease intervention’) and encourage research projects in this area.
The cornerstone of the phylodynamic approach is revealing link between epidemiological scale dynamics, such as patterns of disease incidence, and phylogenetic scale dynamics as manifest in the structure of phylogenetic trees. Marrying these two scales can provide profound insights into infectious disease epidemiology. To understand the potential impact of emerging diseases on human and animal populations we aim to provide a quantitative understanding of the processes that determine the phylodynamic patterns of a wide range of viral infections. We are particularly interested in those viruses that pose a threat to health of the Australian population (such as dengue) or Australian animal species. For example, how does the remarkable range of habitats and animal species in Australia shape patterns of disease transmission? We also aim to integrate evolutionary and epidemiological dynamics at the intra- and inter-host scales.
Evolution of Virulence
Although much of our work is directed toward understanding how viruses jump species boundaries, it is equally important to determine how a new virus will evolve after it has successfully emerged. Central to this is understanding the evolution of pathogen virulence. We are interested in using comparative methods to reveal evolution of virulence determinants through time and the selection pressures acting on these sites. In collaborations with researchers a CSIRO in Canberra we are studying the classic cases of two viruses used to control European rabbit populations in Australia – myxoma virus (MYXV) and rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV).
Awards and honours
• 2011: Australia Fellow, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Australia.
• 2010: Fogarty International Center Director’s Merit Award to the Multinational Influenza Seasonal Mortality Study Team (MISMS). National Institutes of Health.
• 2010: Faculty Scholars Medal in the Life and Health Sciences. The Pennsylvania State University.
• 2008: Kavli Fellow, National Academy of Sciences, USA.
• 2003: Scientific Medal for achievement in research by a zoologist under the age of 40. Zoological Society of London.
• 360 published papers
• 20,387 total citations
• H-index = 76
PhD and master's project opportunities
- Genomic Sequencing Centers for Infectious Diseases; Wentworth D, Holmes E; National Institutes of Health (USA)/Research Support.
- Genetic variability of non-segmented negative-sense RNA virus populations and host adaptation; Holmes E, Bourhy H; Agence Nationale de la Recherche/Research Grant.
- Cluster-randomised controlled trial to test the effectiveness of facemasks in preventing influenza, corona and other respiratory viruses among Hajj pilgrims; Holmes E, Rashid H; The Qatar Foundation/Research Grant.
- The Evolutionary and Biological Bases of Host Switching in Viruses; Holmes E, Parrish C, Holmes E; National Institutes of Health (USA)/Research Support.
- Genomic analysis of the canonical case of virulence evolution: myxomatosis in Australia; Holmes E, Read A, Kerr P; National Institutes of Health (USA)/Research Support.
- Australia Fellowship; Holmes E; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Career Awards: Australian Fellowship.