Guthrie, Jennifer

Research Topic

Pairing Traditional Epidemiology with Genomics to Understand Tuberculosis Transmission Dynamics

Research Description

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease of significant public health importance both globally and within Canada, where it continues to affect vulnerable populations. Utilizing new advances in next-generation DNA sequencing combined with traditional epidemiology, we seek to strengthen efforts in TB control by identifying common patterns of disease spread, potential risk factors for transmission, as well as communities in which there is ongoing person-to-person spread of the disease. Understanding the transmission dynamics of TB is crucial to improving awareness, education, early detection, and ultimately stopping the spread of tuberculosis in Canada’s most at-risk communities.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I choose to study at UBC to work with my supervisor Dr. Jennifer Gardy, a well known scientist in my field whom I had crossed paths with in previous years through our work on tuberculosis in different provinces. I was looking to expand my skill set and learn from an expert using cutting-edge technologies to advance infectious disease research. Because she is well positioned at UBC's School of Population and Public Health and the BC Centre for Disease Control I have the opportunity bring together the world of epidemiology and infectious disease genomics which is exactly what I was looking for.

 

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

Genomics research has never been more exciting or practically important to public health, and pursuing a graduate degree allows me to make a positive contribution to society in the realm of infectious disease – a field I've been passionate about for many years. Additionally, a PhD has long been a personal goal of mine, and the timing and opportunity was finally right for me.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

I worked in my field for a number of years prior to beginning my PhD, which prepared me in many ways. Largely in the ability to work independently, and develop my own research ideas, as well as the knowledge and understanding of what it takes to pursue those ideas. In my personal life I have had some very difficult experiences that have shaped who I am today, and have made the small stuff seem really small, as well as given me the ability to step back and see the big picture. Perspective is valuable during a graduate program, which can be all consuming at times.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

When I am not working away at my research I like to jog or go to the gym, and I absolutely love reading a good book. I definitely have a travel bug and am excited to take a road trip or jet off to a far away place whenever I can.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Accept that to do graduate school well you will need to dedicate yourself to it, which may mean giving up some of the freedoms of your time that you are used to. Try to find balance between school and personal interests to keep you going during the ups and downs of graduate life.