Department of Environmental, Agricultural, and Occupational Health
University of Nebraska Medical Center
College of Public Health
- 2019 – present: Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health, College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
- 2015 - 2019: Research Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health, College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
- 2015 - 2019: Research Scientist, Center for Genome Sciences, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Frederick, Maryland, USA
- 2012 - 2015: ORISE Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Genome Sciences, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Frederick, Maryland, USA
- 2006-2012: PhD in Molecular Virology/Entomology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA
- 2002-2006: BS in Molecular Biology, Salisbury University, Salisbury, Maryland, USA
As a society, we benefit from globalization through the rapid dissemination of ideas and information. However, this also brings about the spread of disease, as we have witnessed with the COVID-19 pandemic. Most surveillance strategies are based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which are sensitive, inexpensive, and fast. However, PCR-based methods are unable to be highly multiplexed (due to loss in sensitivity), which results in the detection and surveillance of only a limited number of targets within a single reaction and the need to process a sample multiple times with different assays. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) presents an elegant solution to this problem, providing the ability to detect and characterize thousands of targets within a single reaction, both known and novel. My research centers around developing and deploying NGS-based solutions for detecting and characterizing pathogens.
I joined the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases Center for Genome Studies (USAMRIID-CGS) in 2012 and applied next-generation sequencing methods to pathogen discovery and biosurveillance. Members of the USAMRIID-CGS team deployed to Liberia during the 2013-2015 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak and established a next-generation sequencing capability at the Liberian Institute for Biomedical Research. During this time, we were able to generate the first Ebola virus (EBOV) genomes from Liberia and used molecular epidemiology to confirm the first case of sexual transmission of EBOV. Once the outbreak was declared over, we were to apply the genomic information generated to understand the cause of EVD flare-up events that involved transmission from persistently infected sources.
The work that we accomplished in Liberia led to opportunities to work with international partners to develop next-generation sequencing capabilities around the world, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, and South Korea. The work involved both partners coming to the U.S. for training and traveling to the partners’ laboratory to provide training and equipment setup.
Starting in 2018, we responded to an EVD outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by working directly with Congolese scientists at the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB). Using the skills and lessons learned from previous trainings and deployments of NGS equipment, we were able to set up a genomics capability in the DRC at INRB in Kinshasa. Congolese scientists were trained on how to perform viral whole genome sequencing from sample preparation, to loading the sequencer, analyzing data, and sharing results with outbreak response teams and the general public through NextStrain.org. The investment of time and resources by all partners involved has resulted in the ability of INRB to lead sequencing and molecular epidemiology work for the 2018 Equateur outbreak, the 2018-2020 Nord Kivu/Ituri outbreak, the 2020 Equateur outbreak, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Wiley MR, Fakoli L, Letizia AG, Welch SR, Ladner JT, et. al. Lassa virus circulating in Liberia: a retrospective genomic characterization. Lancet Infect Dis. 2019 Oct 3.
- Mbala-Kingebeni P, Aziza A, Di Paola N, Wiley MR al. Medical countermeasures during the 2018 Ebola virus disease outbreak in the North Kivu and Ituri Provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo: a rapid genomic assessment. Lancet Infect Dis. 2019 Jun;19(6):648-657. PubMed PMID: 31000464.
- Mbala-Kingebeni P, Pratt CB, Wiley MR, et. al. 2018 Ebola virus disease outbreak in Équateur Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo: a retrospective genomic characterization. Lancet Infect Dis. 2019 Jun;19(6):641-647. PubMed PMID: 31000465.
- Whitmer SLM, Ladner JT, Wiley MR, Patel K, et. al. Active Ebola Virus Replication and Heterogeneous Evolutionary Rates in EVD Survivors. Cell Rep. 2018 Jan 30;22(5):1159-1168.
- Grubaugh ND, Ladner JT, Kraemer MUG, Dudas G, Tan AL, Gangavarapu K, Wiley MR, White S, Thézé J, et. al.. Genomic epidemiology reveals multiple introductions of Zika virus into the United States. Nature. 2017 Jun 15;546(7658):401-405.
- Jansen van Vuren P, Wiley MR, Palacios G, Storm N, Markotter W, Birkhead M, Kemp A, Paweska JT. Isolation of a novel orthobunyavirus from bat flies (Eucampsipoda africana). J Gen Virol. 2017 May;98(5):935-945.
- Blackley DJ, Wiley MR, Ladner JT, Fallah M, Lo T, et. al. Reduced evolutionary rate in reemerged Ebola virus transmission chains. Sci Adv. 2016 Apr;2(4):e1600378. PubMed PMID: 27386513; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4928956.
- Mate SE, Kugelman JR, Nyenswah TG, Ladner JT, Wiley MR, et. al. Molecular Evidence of Sexual Transmission of Ebola Virus. N Engl J Med. 2015 Dec 17;373(25):2448-54. PubMed PMID: 26465384; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4711355.
- Ladner JT, Wiley MR, Mate S, et. al. Evolution and Spread of Ebola Virus in Liberia, 2014-2015. Cell Host Microbe. 2015 Dec 9;18(6):659-69. PubMed PMID: 26651942; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4711363.
- Kugelman JR, Wiley MR, Mate S, Ladner JT, et. al. Monitoring of Ebola Virus Makona Evolution through Establishment of Advanced Genomic Capability in Liberia. Emerg Infect Dis. 2015 Jul;21(7):1135-43. PubMed PMID: 26079255; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4816332.