Dr. Kelly Baker's research group in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa ( https://www.public-health.uiowa.edu/people/kelly-baker/ ) is seeking a Postdoctoral Research Scholar with expertise in global infectious disease research to join the PATHOME Study - a five year study funded by the Fogarty Institute through the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health Evolution and Ecology of Infectious Disease program (R01 TW011795; "Statistical and agent-based modeling of complex microbial systems: a means for understanding enteric disease transmission among children in urban neighborhoods of Kenya").
The PATHOME study is a prospective cohort epidemiological study that will develop novel statistical and agent-based models to examine the role of incremental transitions in societal development in disrupting the exposure and infection of infants by the enteric pathome, i.e. the microbial communities of viral, bacterial, and protozoan pathogens transmitted by human and animal feces.
Our premise is that there are tipping points in household and community development that cause pathome transmission ecology and epidemiology to transition from complex to simple microbial community structures. Ecosystem characterization will be performed in both low-income and middle-class neighborhoods of two Kenyan cities, and will involve identification of east Africa-specific economic indicators, spatial geotracking data, environmental hygiene and microbiology, quantitative behavioral observations, pathogen detection in environment, domestic animals and infants, and anthropometry. The PATHOME Study is being implemented in partnership with the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), who bring extensive expertise in urban development and policy.
The Postdoc will contribute to broader study objectives by producing the microbiology outcomes necessary for characterizing the pathome of the infant and domestic animal gut, and along environmental exposure pathways.
Developing and/or validating quantitative culture-based environmental microbiology assays and finalizing a Standard Operating Protocol for use by laboratory staff at the APHRC;
Developing a real-time electronic data management system for merging Kenya and Iowa laboratory data and performing regular quality control and progress assessments of datasets;
Training Kenyan and Iowa staff and performing regular QA/QC oversight (bimonthly conference calls with APHRC lab staff and international travel between Iowa and Kenya);
Managing international transport of samples from Kenya to Iowa;
Managing PATHOME laboratory budget and Environmental Health and Safety Compliance;
Performing multi-pathogen qRT-PCR of analysis of infant and animal feces samples and validating data quality;
Analysis and writing of at least two manuscripts, one of which will describe pathome composition in infant and animal feces across low and middle-income household and neighborhood gradients;
Presenting study results at professional conferences;
Collaborating on manuscript preparation with the PIs and APHRC partners;
Supervising and mentoring graduate and undergraduate students;
Co-writing grant proposals with the PIs and collaborators;
Coordinating with Kenya and Iowa-based database managers on integration of microbial data with other study datasets.
Additional opportunities for professional development will be supported, such as teaching in graduate and undergraduate global health courses, submission of pilot grants or career development awards, or collaboration on other domestic or international projects.
The position is available as early as March 2021 and will be filled no later than May 2021. The position will be supported for two years and seven months, with possibility of extension. The position will be based in Iowa City, IA, but will require stays in Kenya lasting between a week to two months at certain times in the study.
Application materials submitted by March 1st will be reviewed first, with qualified candidates contacted for an interview by March 31st. If no suitable candidates are identified, applications will continue to be reviewed until such a candidate is identified.
With over 31,000 students, the University of Iowa is one of the nation's top public research universities, a member of the Big Ten conference and the Association of American Universities. The University of Iowa is composed of eleven colleges and is known around the world for its balanced commitment to the arts, sciences, and humanities. It is home to one of the nation's largest academic medical centers and the pioneering Iowa Writers' Workshop. The University of Iowa promotes work/life integration and is located in the casual yet cosmopolitan environment of Iowa City, widely recognized as one of the country's most livable communities.