Dr. Kayla King named Canada Excellence Research Chair

Dr. Kayla King (Departments of Zoology, Microbiology & Immunology; LSI) has been appointed the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Evolutionary Dynamics of Host-Pathogen Interactions.

The CERC program was established by the federal government in 2008 to strengthen Canada’s ability to attract the world’s top researchers.

Dr. King’s research focuses on evolutionary and ecological interactions between animal hosts and microbial pathogens. Microbial pathogens are tiny, often invisible organisms, such as viruses and bacteria, that can cause diseases in humans and animals.

Climate change is causing extreme heating and altering the distribution of microbial pathogens, while associated human activity and biodiversity loss are increasing human-animal contact—factors that might contribute to infectious diseases becoming more prevalent.

Dr. King’s research has implications for predicting virulence, transmission, and the tempo of evolution as microbial pathogens emerge in animals or move to new areas with shifting climates.

“My research aims to better understand the evolution of infection and immunity in a changing world,” says Dr. King. “The program will assess the impacts of climate change on pathogen evolution and host susceptibility, and study pathogen evolution after jumps across animal species. We hope to better predict changes in virulence and transmission, informing wildlife conservation, and helping us get ahead in the race against future pandemics.”

This article is an abbreviated version of the original story on the UBC Science website.

Please see the news release by the Government of Canada here.