Scientist to explain new techniques in tracking the spread of disease

Can new technology help us control the spread disease?  Dr. Jennifer Gardy, a Molecular Epidemiologist at the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), believes that epidemiology in combination with DNA sequencing provides a powerful tool to unveil the specJennifer Gardyific steps in disease outbreaks, and this is an important step towards controlling such outbreaks.  Her lab at BCCDC uses genome sequencing to understand the origins, transmission, and evolutionary dynamics of outbreaks of infectious disease.

Dr. Gardy will present a free public talk entitled: DNA Detectives: Genomics and DNA sequencing to solve multiple mysteries at 7:30 pm Tuesday March 5, at the Vernon campus of the Okanagan College.

This FREE event is made possible by Genome BC and is presented in conjunction with the Science in Society Speaker Series. To guarantee a seat, please register online at Registration at the door will be available on a first come, first served basis.

Understanding how an organism enters and spreads through a population is key to public health efforts to manage an outbreak and prevent future cases. “Genome sequencing used to be prohibitively expensive…” says Dr. Jennifer Gardy. “Now, however, sequencing tens, hundreds, or thousands of bacterial isolates is very doable in a reasonable timeframe and at a manageable cost. We can figure out how these bacteria are related to each other by comparing their genome sequences, and when we overlay that information onto a map of the social relationships between cases we can actually reconstruct the path by which an infectious agent worked its way through a population.”

Dr. Gardy leads BCCDC’s Genome Research Laboratory and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Gardy joined BCCDC in 2009, where she works in the emerging field of genomic epidemiology, combining whole genome sequencing with both new and old epidemiological techniques to understand the origins, evolution, and transmission dynamics of outbreak organisms, including tuberculosis and influenza. She is also a passionate science communicator involved in a number of science media projects, including regular appearances on CBC Television’s documentary series The Nature of Things and hosting television documentaries (project X) as well as writing for The Globe and Mail.

The Science in Society Speaker Series (a joint project by Okanagan Science Centre and the Okanagan College) is also sponsored by Starbucks Coffee, and the Vernon Morning Star.

For more information and to register for this talk, visit the Okanagan Science Centre at or call (250) 545-3644.

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