Ashlee Earl is a Research Scientist and Group Leader of Bacterial Genomics at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Within the Broad Institute’s Genome Center for Infectious Diseases, Earl is working to understand the relationship between microbes and human health including how multi-drug resistant pathogens emerge and spread.
She coordinated much of the Broad’s research in the Human Microbiome Project and now leads a team of computational biologists to develop and utilize an array of ‘omics analytical approaches to dissect bacterial and host contributions to several infectious diseases. She has organized and led dozens of local and international collaborations to bring genomic approaches to the study of tuberculosis, urinary tract infections and hospital-acquired infections caused by the enterococci and carbapenem resistant Enterobacteriaceae.
Earl received a B.S. and Ph.D. in microbiology from Louisiana State University and trained as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School before joining the Broad Institute in 2009.
Drug resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) is an urgent and growing threat as multi-, extensively- and even totally-drug resistant (MDR, XDR and TDR) cases of TB are increasingly reported. Incomplete knowledge of the mutations that give rise to drug resistance in the causative agent of TB, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, has hampered development of point-of-care molecular diagnostics that would enable effective TB patient management and decrease DR-TB emergence. With our partners, we have sequenced and analyzed geographically and phenotypically diverse collections of M. tuberculosis to analyze the evolution of DR-TB and to create a more comprehensive catalog of DR-associated mutations. I will discuss findings from this work, which include insights into the step-wise evolution of XDR-TB within an epidemic region and its relevance for global TB control.