Professor Edward Holmes
NHMRC Australia Fellow
Faculty Member, Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity
Faculty Member, Charles Perkins Centre, Sydney Medical School
Faculty Member, School of Biological Sciences
Fellow, Australian Academy of Science
D17 - Charles Perkins Centre
The University of Sydney
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|Curriculum vitae||Curriculum vitae|
Professor Edward Holmes is an internationally renowned research scientist studying the evolution and emergence of infectious diseases, particularly the mechanisms by which pathogens jump species boundaries to emerge in humans. His work has provided key insights into the emergence of novel infections. He holds a NHMRC Australia Fellowship (the highest-ranked competitive biomedical fellowship in Australia and one of only six given in 2011, awarded to leading biomedical researchers of international status conducting research of major impact to Australia). Professor Holmes has studied the emergence and spread of avian influenza (bird flu) virus, dengue virus, HIV, hepatitis C virus, myxoma virus, RHDV (rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus) and Yersinia pestis (the plague bacterium). Of note are his major contributions to understanding the evolutionary and epidemiological dynamics of influenza, which have assisted in influenza virus strain prediction and vaccine deployment. He commented extensively to Australian and international media on the 2014-2015 Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. His previous appointments include Verne M. Willaman Chair in the Life Sciences and Eberly College of Science Distinguished Senior Scholar (2007-2012) at Pennsylvania State University, USA, and Affiliate Member of the Fogarty International Centre (2005-2012), National Institutes of Health, USA. From 1999-2004 he was Fellow of New College, Oxford. Currently he is Member of The Center for Infection and Immunity, Columbia University, USA, and Guest Professor at the Chinese CDC, Beijing. Professor Holmes is the author of >430 peer-reviewed papers and two highly-regarded books. His publications have >36,000 citations (h-index of 101; i10-index of 356, see http://scholar.google.com.au/citations?user=Syrp1IMAAAAJ&hl=en).
Professor Holmes’ interest in the emergence and spread of novel viral infections began in the late 1980s/early 1990s, “as this was a time of the highest rates of HIV-associated deaths and when hepatitis C virus was first identified”. He has spent the past 25 years using molecular genetic techniques to understand the determinants of cross-species pathogen transmission and emergence. His work has helped define the barriers faced by viruses as they emerge in new hosts, determine the range of transmission patterns exhibited by emerging viruses, and establish genetic models for host switching. “A key question is how often are new viruses created by jumping to new host species (which is central to the process of viral emergence), compared to their genesis within single hosts?” says Professor Holmes.
His research has helped to explain the nature of virulence evolution following species jumps and provided insights into many RNA viruses, including dengue virus. His studies on myxomatosis in the European rabbit populations of Australia and Europe revealed multiple genetic routes to high virulence or attenuation. His influenza virus research, including phylogenetic studies showing the emergence of major drug-resistant strains, has implications for disease control and provides key information on how the viruses might evolve in response to future antiviral and vaccination strategies.
Currently, he is studying families of viruses and bacterial pathogens to define the patterns/rationale for why some pathogens are more likely to jump between species and spread. The molecular analyses will be used to understand the measurable impact of the novel infections on public and animal health and to help devise strategies for control and eradication of these infections. “I am interested in the core principles and commonalities regarding pathogens that jump species and spread, and how we can use this information to realistically predict the next pandemic”, says Professor Holmes. He also is using “ancient DNA” to investigate the causes and patterns of spread of past pandemics such as plague and cholera. Another study will use metagenomics to investigate the cause of disease syndromes of uncertain microbial cause (e.g. Lyme-like syndrome) in Australia.For further information, go to: http://sydney.edu.au/science/biology/viralevolution/index.shtml. Applications from potential Ph.D. students are particularly welcome.
• The evolution of viral emergence.
• The evolution of virus virulence and host range.
• Studying microbial evolution and emergence using ancient pathogens.
• Exploring the virosphere (with 'meta-transcriptomics').
• Biological control using viral pathogens.
• The evolution and molecular epidemiology of influenza, dengue and enteroviruses.
• American Society for Microbiology
Awards and honours
• 2015: Fellow, Australian Academy of Science (FAA)
• 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, USA.
• 2010: Faculty Scholars Medal in the Life and Health Sciences. The Pennsylvania State University, USA.
• 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, UK.
In the media
Emerging infections; Epidemiology; Virology; Bacteriology
PhD and master's project opportunities
Collaboration on NHMRC grant.
(Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
2014-Present: Guest Professor
(The Center for Infection and Immunity, Columbia University, New York)
(The Pennsylvania State University)
Collaboration on an NIH grant.
- Making Green Guard® greener: enhancing the efficacy of a biopesticide; Simpson S, Holmes E, Buhl J, Wilson K, Woodman J; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Projects (LP).
- PacBio long read sequencer for the Ramaciotti Genomics Consortium of NSW; Holmes E; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF).
- Towards real time data sharing to support patient-centred care, quality health delivery, improvement programmes, performance management and research; Morris J, Roberts C, Simpson S, Kay J, Venkatesh S, Fazekas de St Groth B, Arthur J, Feng D, Holmes E, James D, Yang J, Engel A; NSW Ministry of Health, Office for Health and Medical Research/Bioinformatics Collaborative Grants Program.
- Defining the evolution of pathogen virulence to enhance rabbit biocontrol; Kerr P, Holmes E, Strive T; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).
- Genomic centers for infectious diseases; Holmes E; National Institutes of Health (USA)/Research Grant.
- Black Death genomics and the evolution of pathogen virulence; Holmes E, Poinar H, Iredell J; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Project Grants.
- Cluster-randomised controlled trial to test the effectiveness of facemasks in preventing influenza, corona and other respiratory viruses among Hajj pilgrims; El Bashir H, Holmes E, Rashid H, Booy R; Qatar National Research Fund/Research Support.
- 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.
- The Evolutionary and Biological Bases of Host Switching in Viruses; Parrish C, Holmes E, 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.
The Evolution and Emergence of RNA Viruses (Oxford University Press, 2009)