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Silvie Huijben

Assistant Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 4501
Asst Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 4501
Biography

Silvie Huijben is an evolutionary biologist with a keen interest in the arms-race between us humans and the organisms we aim to control, in particular resistance evolution of malaria parasites and disease-transmitting mosquitoes. Her lab studies the evolutionary ecology of resistant organisms with the key question: how can we use evolutionary theory to better design resistance management strategies? Her research combines fieldwork, experimental evolution in the laboratory setting and mathematical modeling.   

Silvie Huijben received her PhD in evolutionary biology and infectious diseases from the University of Edinburgh in 2010 and did her post-doc at the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics (CIDD) at the Pennsylvania State University (USA) on the evolution of drug resistance in a rodent malaria model. She subsequently moved to the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISglobal, Spain) in 2013 and obtained a Science in Society – Branco Weiss Fellowship and a Marie Curie Incoming International Fellowship to pursue her interests in the evolution of drug resistance and insecticide resistance as a post-doctoral scholar. She has been an assistant professor at the Center for Evolution and Medicine in the School of Life Sciences since February 2018.

Education

Oct 2006 – Jan 2010                       PhD Cell, Animal and Population Biology, Edinburgh University, UK

June 2003 – Aug 2006                    MSc Biology, Wageningen University, Netherlands

Sept 2000 – Nov 2004                    BSc Biology, Wageningen University, Netherlands

Research Interests

The overall objective of the Huijben lab is to investigate optimal strategies for containment of antimalarial resistance in malaria parasites and insecticide resistance in disease-transmitting mosquitoes while optimizing disease control. We approach this by a combination of working with field-derived samples, empirical data derived from evolutionary experiments in the lab and, in collaboration, with mathematical modeling. Currently we work on the following research projects.

NOTE: We are currently looking for graduate students to enrich our lab, click here to apply 

Understand the relation between insecticide resistance and malaria epidemiology The aim of vector control in the context of malaria is not to kill the mosquito per se, but to block or reduce disease transmission. While widespread mosquito resistance has been observed, impact on disease transmission might not be as severe as feared. Our goal is to (i) gather biological data on the factors that determine intervention efficacy using insecticide-resistant and –susceptible Aedes aegyptii in the lab and (ii) to incorporate these indirect effects into a mathematical model (in collaboration with Prof Abba Gumel from the Mathematics Department at ASU) to gain better understanding of the relation between insecticide resistance and malaria epidemiology.

Determine optimal insecticide resistance management strategies Currently insecticides are being applied as a ‘mono-treatment’, i.e. a single class of insecticide is used year after year. However, we know from mono-treatment in healthcare and agriculture that this provides the strongest selective pressure for resistance. We intent to determine optimal insecticide resistance management strategies by performing both short-term and multi-generational evolutionary experiments with Aedes aegyptii mosquitoes using different exposure regimes. In addition, we will use incorporate this data in mathematical models to determine optimal treatment regimes in collaboration with Prof. Abba Gumel. 

Determine optimal antimalarial resistance management strategies Similar to the above project, we aim to optimize antimalarial resistance management strategies with a combination of long-term and short-term evolutionary experiments on Plasmodium falciparum parasites cultured in vitro in the lab as well as using a mathematical approach. Moreover, we are currently in the process of developing an insectary that will allow us to study the evolution of resistant malaria parasites within the mosquito vector. 

Understand insecticide resistance patterns in the field Insecticide resistance are rather heterogeneous in the field, why do we see such diversity in resistance patterns? What are the factors that determine the level of resistance observed in the field? How does the level of susceptibility as measured by standard bioassays translate to intervention efficacy? At our field sites in Mozambique and Guyana we collect mosquitoes from various areas, do a wide range of insecticide susceptibility assays and molecular analysis for resistance markers with the aim to understand the evolution of insecticide resistance in an intervention setting better.