Kristian G. Andersen, PhD, is a principal investigator at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and Director of Infectious Disease Genomics at the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI). His lab studies the interactions between human hosts and viruses such as Zika, Ebola and Lassa.

His lab’s overall mission is to understand how outbreaks unfold and help guide vaccine and therapy development through a better understanding of how viruses evolve under pressure from the immune system. This research requires a combination of computational biology, experimentation and field work.

Working with researchers at the University of Miami and Florida Gulf Coast University, Andersen’s lab has sequenced Zika-virus genomes found in patients and mosquitos in Florida—cases associated both with travel and local transmission. To the team’s knowledge, the lab is the first to sequence samples from local Zika transmissions within the United States.

Their preliminary data show how the virus may have entered Florida only once and how Aedes aegypti serve as a vector in the Miami area.

Andersen can also comment on viral outbreaks in general.