Sima Afsharnezhad - Postdoctoral Researcher
The tick microbiome can carry a wide variety of bacteria and viruses like Borrelia burgdorferi, which is the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Despite rapid breakthroughs in DNA and RNA sequencing technologies, their applications remain limited for understanding tick-borne diseases. Unlike traditional screening approaches, handheld sequencers can simultaneously detect endemic pathogens and new invaders. However, handheld sequencers currently have limited use in clinical or natural contexts due to limitations in laboratory procedures, bioinformatics, and validation.
As a postdoctoral fellow in the Colautti lab, I am investigating new methodologies and informatics paradigms to discover, quantify, and characteriz microbes associated with ticks. Making handheld sequencers feasible and cost-effective tools for detecting pathogens in various outdoor settings is one of my long-term goals.