Isabel Fernández Escapa, PhD
Research on the microbiome has bloomed during the last two decades, bringing together microbiologists, immunologists, epidemiologists, statisticians, and bioinformaticians in a complex field that requires researchers to be constantly ahead of new technological developments. As Director of Forsyth’s Sequencing and Bioinformatics Core, Isabel Fernández Escapa assists Forsyth investigators in facing the technological challenges of this field. “I strive to make an impact by helping other scientists to design, perform, troubleshoot, and interpret their microbiome projects, because I am convinced that only through collaborative science will we achieve ground-breaking results”, says Escapa.
Escapa’s most recent research focused on the expansion of the Human Oral Microbiome Database (eHOMD) to include bacteria resident to the entire human aerodigestive tract. This project, in collaboration with Drs. Katherine Lemon and Floyd Dewhirst, has allowed Forsyth bioinformaticians to develop and validate a comprehensive workflow for analysis of 16S rRNA gene tag sequencing data that uses a training set derived from the expanded database (eHOMD). This eHOMD custom training set, in conjunction with high-resolution algorithms, allows species-level identification of most bacterial taxa present in human aerodigestive microbiome samples. Thanks to this new pipeline the Forsyth Institute positions itself at the frontier of oral and nasal microbiome research, offering an outstanding quality 16S rRNA gene microbiome workflow.
Escapa aims to develop the Sequencing and Bioinformatics Core into a key asset that could support Forsyth basic, translational, and clinical research. “Our goal is to leverage our knowledge by generating high quality proprietary microbiome data that could be mined for the discovery of new therapeutic/diagnostic tools.”