Associate Director, Microbiome
Department Head, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Professor, Genetics - GIDP
Michael Worobey, PhD, uses the genomes of viruses to trace the evolution of major communicable diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and influenza. He employs an evolutionary approach to understand the origins, emergence and control of pathogens, in particular RNA viruses and retroviruses such as HIV and influenza virus. The research program integrates fieldwork, theory and methodology, molecular biology, and molecular evolutionary analysis of gene sequences in a phylogenetic framework.Current wet-lab projects in Dr. Worobey’s Biosafety Level 3 facility involve recovery of damaged and/or ancient DNA from a variety of sources including paraffin-embedded human tissue specimens, blood smears, and museum specimens. The two main efforts are: 1) reconstructing the emergence of HIV-1 group M in central Africa and North America using fossil HIV-1 sequences, and 2) investigating the evolution of AIDS-related viruses in wild-living African primates using non-invasively-collected samples.