Kayla Barnes is a postdoctoral fellow in the Sabeti Lab where she focuses on evolutionary genetics of both humans and pathogen. Kayla is a co-leader on two genome-wide association studies of susceptibility to Ebola Virus Disease and Lassa fever. Kayla is also analyzing persistence of Ebola in semen and Lassa fever virus variation between the human and rodent hosts. In addition to her work on hemorrhagic fevers, Kayla recently began work to elucidate the intrahost genetic variation of the Zika virus and the human transcriptomic profile of pregnant women with Zika virus disease. Kayla’s postdoctoral work is supported by the ASTMH Shope fellowship and a Broad-Next 10 grant.
Kayla carried out her Ph.D. in Tropical Medicine at the Malawi-Liverpool Wellcome Trust Center in Blantyre, Malawi, and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine with Janet Hemingway and Charles Wondji. Her work focused on the genomics and evolutionary genetics driving insecticide resistance mechanisms in a main malaria mosquito vector throughout southern Africa. Kayla showed a selective sweep around two important cytochrome P450s that metabolize insecticides occurred after the introduction of treated bed nets. Kayla was awarded the Jean Clayton Fellowship and the ASTMH Young Investigator Award for her Ph.D. work.
Kayla completed her undergraduate degree in Evolutionary Biology and Chemistry, with an emphasis in Molecular Biology at the University of Colorado. Kayla was an Undergraduate Research Opportunity (UROP) recipient and studied haptoglobin polymorphisms in endurance athletes under Jeffry Mitton. After her undergraduate degree Kayla worked with Heidi Rehm at the Harvard Medical School, Laboratory for Molecular Medicine developing personalized medicine tools. She then worked for Dyann Wirth at the Harvard School of Public Health, where she studied multiplicity of Plasmodium falciparum infection and helped analyze geographical variation and antimalarial drug resistance in P. falciparum isolates.
Kayla is a science advisor to the Boston Science Museum, Hall of Human Life, and the co-creator of the LSTM Science in Action Podcast.