PhD project by Klara Marie Andersen

Name: Klara Marie Andersen
Project Title: Exploring genetic markers for zoonotic transmission of influenza virus
Group: Bayesian Modelling & Molecular Evolution
Supervisors: Anders Gorm Pedersen and Ramona Trebbien (SSI)

Project Description: 
Influenza A virus (IAV) is an important pathogen in humans and animals and has zoonotic potential. 
We still don’t know exactly what causes specific variants of IAV to jump the species barrier and thus, the main objective of this project is to identify genetic markers of the IAV genome associated with infectivity, host adaption, transmissibility and severity of IAV infections in humans and pigs. This will be assessed by whole genome sequencing of archived and contemporary human IAVs and bioinformatic analyses using Bayesian approaches. The IAV sequences will be compared to swine IAV sequences from the same period as well as to sequences from public databases in the search for specific point mutations or other factors involved in zoonotic transmission or adaptation of IAVs.

The latest influenza pandemic in 2009 was the result of a reassortment event of different swine IAVs that combined and was transmitted to humans. Pigs are regarded as a melting pot for generation of new Influenza A variants with increased virulence and host range. As Denmark is a great swine producing country, our pig herds could be a potential hotspot for the creation of new IAVs and emerging epidemics. Knowledge of specific markers of the IAV genome that could lead to zoonotic spread of the virus would be an important tool for preventing new Influenza pandemics and developing improved vaccines for humans and animals.


Klara Marie Andersen
PhD student
DTU Health Tech


Anders Gorm Pedersen
Groupleader, Professor
DTU Health Tech