European Research Council: Ancient Pathogen Genomics of Re-emerging Infectious Disease (APGREID)

Through an extensive screening of skeletal collections from well-characterized catastrophe, or emergency, mass burials we plan to detect and sequence pathogen DNA from various historic pandemics spanning at least 2,500 years of European history.

The molecular fossil record of human pathogens will provide insights into host adaptation and evolutionary rates of infectious disease. In addition, human genomic regions relating to disease susceptibility and immunity will be characterized from the skeletal material in order to observe the direct effect that pathogens have made on the genetic make-up of human populations over time. The results of this project will allow a multidisciplinary interpretation of historical pandemics that have influenced the course of human history. It will provide priceless information for the field of history, evolutionary biology, anthropology as well as medicine and will have direct consequences on how we manage emerging and re-emerging infectious disease in the future.

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