Evolutionary and Ecological Medicine

Welcome to the Wargo lab at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science!

We study the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases.  Some of the topics we explore are virulence, pathogen emergence, transmission, co-infection, host-pathogen interactions, vaccination, selective breeding, farming practices, and drug resistance.   

Our goal is to understand the ecological and evolutionary processes that drive disease severity, and harness this information to improve long-term disease management.  To do so we employ an integrative approach that combines laboratory experiments, field studies, statistical analyses, and mathematical modeling.  We utilize cutting-edge and classic techniques from molecular biology, microbiology, genetics, parasitology, virology, immunology, and mathematics.   

Our work is primarily focused on the pathogen system Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus of salmonid fishes.  However, we are also exploring systems such as bacterial cold water disease, viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus, and bacterial kidney disease of fishes; Hematodinium perezi of crabs; and Perkinsus marinus of bivalves.  Our roots are in malaria parasites, and we still dabble in that system as well.    

Although our work is inherently focused the fascinating questions specific to each of these study systems, we also use them as models to address foundational questions relevant to general infectious disease biology in wildlife, domesticated animals, and humans.