The objective of this Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (K01) is to provide Dr. Jessica Leibler with the training, mentoring and research experience needed to support her transition to an independent researcher in occupational health epidemiology, with particular focus on genomic and translational approaches to evaluate emerging influenza viruses from livestock. Dr. Leibler is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Health at the Boston University School of Public Health with training and research experience in emerging infectious diseases among agricultural workers. She seeks additional education and mentorship to guide her learning of advanced genomic and translational skills to allow her to achieve full research independence in her field. Dr. Leibler's training goals are 1) developing content and methodological skills to perform genomic epidemiology research; 2) learning and applying bioinformatics approaches to analyzing genomic sequence data; and 3) establishing expertise in applied translational research in occupational health. To achieve these goals, Dr. Leibler has established a mentoring team at Boston University comprised of two Co-Mentors with complementary expertise: Dr. W. Evan Johnson, a biostatistician and computational biologist with expertise in analysis of genome sequencing data; and Dr. Roberta F. White, an occupational health epidemiologist with expertise in both occupational health research and translation. An advisory committee that includes senior investigators with expertise in infectious diseases and genomic epidemiology will support her training and research goals. This research is based at Boston University, with substantial opportunities for collaboration and support. The emergence of human pandemic influenza viruses from livestock production is a well-established phenomenon, and livestock workers are at significant risk of exposure. The K01 research is focused on a novel, emerging genus of influenza viruses, influenza D (IDV), for which cattle has been identified as the host species. A small pilot study in northern Florida in 2016 documented elevated rates of exposure to this pathogen among cattle workers (>90%), and seroprevalence among cattle in some regions is more than 80%. Dr. Leibler's proposed research expands on this pilot study to characterize infection, risk factors and health effects of IDV among cattle workers, their household members and community referents (n=250) (Aim 1); depict the phylogenic lineage of publically available IDV isolates as well as those recovered from this study (Aim 2); and to engage public health decision-makers, clinicians, workers and industry around translational, evidence-based strategies to prevent and identify transmission (Aim 3). This research will form the basis for Dr. Leibler's planned R01 submission focused on transmission dynamics of zoonotic influenza within households of industrial livestock workers, and an R21 proposal on human gene expression associated with IDV infection.

Public Health Relevance

/PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE Occupational exposure to livestock poses demonstrated risk for human infection with animal influenza viruses which can contribute to influenza pandemics in humans. An emerging influenza genus, influenza D, has recently been detected in cattle and cattle workers in the United States, although health effects and genomic dynamics of this novel pathogen are largely unstudied. The proposed research will enable the candidate to apply advanced skills in genomic epidemiology, bioinformatics, and translational research ? gained through a structured training program engaged during this K01 period - to a thorough epidemiological analysis of this emerging pathogen with the goal of informing infection risk to workers and community health.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
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Safety and Occupational Health Study Section (SOH)
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Boston University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
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