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Andrew Wetlab

Andrew Wargo obtained his PhD from the University of Edinburgh in Biological Sciences.  During his PhD studies he worked with Andrew F. Read on the ecology and evolution of malaria parasite transmission, drug resistance, and virulence.  A major finding from this work was that malaria ecology could be harnessed to slow the evolution of drug resistance, by reducing the dosage of drug treatment regimes.   An additional accomplishment was the development of a molecular approach for quantifying malaria transmission investment.  Although his formative years of malaria research were in Edinburgh, Andrew set the foundation for this work as an undergraduate at the University of Vermont researching malaria life-history traits with Joseph J. Schall.  While working with Professor Schall he contributed to the development of a molecular method for detecting low parasitemia malaria infections. 
Upon completion of his PhD, Andrew moved to Seattle where he spent 6 years as a postdoctoral associate at the University of Washington and the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center.  As a postdoc, he worked with Gael Kurath and Benjamin Kerr studying the association between virulence and fitness in the salmonid pathogen infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV).  This work revealed that virulent IHNV strains have fitness trait advantages.  An additional novel finding was that host culling might prevent the evolution of pathogen virulence.  Andrew joined the faculty at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in 2012. 

Andrew’s roots are in ecology and evolution.  He has always been intrigued by examining the host as a miniature ecosystem within which pathogens reside and potentially interact.  This has become his version of ‘frogs in a rainforest’ or ‘lions on a savanna’.  Early in his studies Andrew realized there is something even more exciting than ‘frogs’ and ‘lions’, the pathogens inside them.  Because pathogens are parasitic they have a unique type of dependency on their hosts for survival.  This creates a fascinating interaction between the host, the environment the host resides in, and the multitude of parasites residing in the host.  Andrew is intrigued by the traits pathogens evolve to maximize their fitness under this complex ecological interaction, and how changes at each ecological level might push the evolution of pathogen fitness traits.  He is motivated by basic ecological and evolutionary science questions related to parasitism and species interactions.  These questions need not be tied to a specific pathogen system, although the unique intricacies of each system make the work particularly compelling. His overarching objective is to develop strategies for reducing disease severity, grounded in data supported ecological and evolutionary principles.




Virginia Institute of Marine Science
1375 Greate Road
Gloucester Point, VA  23062


Campus: Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Office: N212 Chesapeake Bay Hall
Office phone: 804-684-7311
Lab: N218 Chesapeake Bay Hall
Lab phone: 804-684-7234



Our collaborators are what make this job fun, and we can't thank them enough for all the support they have provided.  It is impossible to list everyone who has collaborated with us over the years.  Below are a few for whom pictures were available, in no particular order.  We are continuously adding to this list and always seeking new collaborative opportunities.


From left to right: Rachel Breyta (University of Washington), Andrew Wargo (VIMS), Doug McKenney (Seattle Central Community College), Gael Kurath (USGS WFRC), Alison Kell (University of Washington), Tarin Thompson (USGS WFRC)





 Marc Lipsitch (Harvard)




 Greg Weins



 Greg Wiens (NCCCWA USDA)








Gabriela Gomes (Gulbenkian Institute Portugal)







Claudio Struchiner (FIOCRUZ Brazil)






 Ryan Carnegie (VIMS)







 Jeff Shields (VIMS)







 Kim Reece (VIMS)




 Michelle Penaranda


Michelle Penaranda (SEAFDEC Aquaculture, Phillipines)







Kyle Garver (DFO Canada)






 Bill Batts (USGS WFRC)





Grace Wargo (Honorary member)