People

Sarah E. Cobey, PhD

Broadly, my group investigates the coevolution of pathogens and hosts’ adaptive immunity. We use computational and mathematical tools to test hypotheses and to advance theory. Our earlier work focused on the evolutionary consequences of immune-mediated competition between different pathogen strains, including pneumococcus, human papillomavirus, and especially influenza. More recently, our focus has expanded to include the related dynamics of the host immune response. We are investigating the evolution of antibody repertoires within hosts over time, in particular to identify the roles of infection history, chance, vaccination, and host genetics in generating the diversity of B cell responses. This research involves linking epidemiological and immunological observations of B cells to the antigenic and genetic evolution of influenza viruses. Consequently, it makes extensive use of longitudinal dynamical models of individuals and birth cohorts as well as techniques from molecular evolution to investigate coevolution across scales.



Understanding the dynamics of vaccination is another area of focus. We have investigated the actual and expected impacts of vaccines against pneumococcus, human papillomavirus, and influenza. With influenza, we have been investigating the impact of the vaccine on viral transmission and local evolution and how immune history might reduce the vaccine’s effectiveness and alter selective pressures. Improving vaccination strategies given hosts’ diverse immune histories and the potential for rapid evolution by the pathogen is a long-term aim of our work. Ultimately, we want to explain coevolution sufficiently well to enable prediction, or at least to determine when prediction is not feasible.

Harvard School of Public Health
Postdoctoral - Infectious disease dynamics
2013

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
PhD - Ecology & Evolution
2009

Princeton University
AB - Ecology & Evolution
2002

Improvements in SARS-CoV-2 Testing Cascade in the US: Data from Serial Cross-sectional Assessments.
Clipman SJ, Wesolowski A, Mehta SH, Cobey S, Cummings DAT, Solomon SS. Improvements in SARS-CoV-2 Testing Cascade in the US: Data from Serial Cross-sectional Assessments. Clin Infect Dis. 2021 Aug 10.
PMID: 34374758

Fractionation of COVID-19 vaccine doses could extend limited supplies and reduce mortality.
Cowling BJ, Lim WW, Cobey S. Fractionation of COVID-19 vaccine doses could extend limited supplies and reduce mortality. Nat Med. 2021 08; 27(8):1321-1323.
PMID: 34226735

Lineage-specific protection and immune imprinting shape the age distributions of influenza B cases.
Vieira MC, Donato CM, Arevalo P, Rimmelzwaan GF, Wood T, Lopez L, Huang QS, Dhanasekaran V, Koelle K, Cobey S. Lineage-specific protection and immune imprinting shape the age distributions of influenza B cases. Nat Commun. 2021 07 14; 12(1):4313.
PMID: 34262041

An Egg-Derived Sulfated N-Acetyllactosamine Glycan Is an Antigenic Decoy of Influenza Virus Vaccines.
Guthmiller JJ, Utset HA, Henry C, Li L, Zheng NY, Sun W, Costa Vieira M, Zost S, Huang M, Hensley SE, Cobey S, Palese P, Wilson PC. An Egg-Derived Sulfated N-Acetyllactosamine Glycan Is an Antigenic Decoy of Influenza Virus Vaccines. mBio. 2021 06 29; 12(3):e0083821.
PMID: 34126773

Geographic and demographic heterogeneity of SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic testing in Illinois, USA, March to December 2020.
Holden TM, Richardson RAK, Arevalo P, Duffus WA, Runge M, Whitney E, Wise L, Ezike NO, Patrick S, Cobey S, Gerardin J. Geographic and demographic heterogeneity of SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic testing in Illinois, USA, March to December 2020. BMC Public Health. 2021 06 10; 21(1):1105.
PMID: 34107947

COVID-19 Infection, Reinfection, and Vaccine Effectiveness in a Prospective Cohort of Arizona Frontline/Essential Workers: The AZ HEROES Research Protocol.
Lutrick K, Ellingson KD, Baccam Z, Rivers P, Beitel S, Parker J, Hollister J, Sun X, Gerald JK, Komatsu K, Kim E, LaFleur B, Grant L, Yoo YM, Kumar A, Mayo Lamberte J, Cowling BJ, Cobey S, Thornburg NJ, Meece JK, Kutty P, Nikolich-Zugich J, Thompson MG, Burgess JL. COVID-19 Infection, Reinfection, and Vaccine Effectiveness in a Prospective Cohort of Arizona Frontline/Essential Workers: The AZ HEROES Research Protocol. JMIR Res Protoc. 2021 May 26.
PMID: 34057904

Investigate the origins of COVID-19.
Bloom JD, Chan YA, Baric RS, Bjorkman PJ, Cobey S, Deverman BE, Fisman DN, Gupta R, Iwasaki A, Lipsitch M, Medzhitov R, Neher RA, Nielsen R, Patterson N, Stearns T, van Nimwegen E, Worobey M, Relman DA. Investigate the origins of COVID-19. Science. 2021 05 14; 372(6543):694.
PMID: 33986172

Geographic and demographic heterogeneity of SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic testing in Illinois, USA, March to December 2020.
Holden TM, Richardson RAK, Arevalo P, Duffus WA, Runge M, Whitney E, Wise L, Ezike NO, Patrick S, Cobey S, Gerardin J. Geographic and demographic heterogeneity of SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic testing in Illinois, USA, March to December 2020. medRxiv. 2021 Apr 20.
PMID: 33907762

Concerns about SARS-CoV-2 evolution should not hold back efforts to expand vaccination.
Cobey S, Larremore DB, Grad YH, Lipsitch M. Concerns about SARS-CoV-2 evolution should not hold back efforts to expand vaccination. Nat Rev Immunol. 2021 05; 21(5):330-335.
PMID: 33795856

Model-informed COVID-19 vaccine prioritization strategies by age and serostatus.
Bubar KM, Reinholt K, Kissler SM, Lipsitch M, Cobey S, Grad YH, Larremore DB. Model-informed COVID-19 vaccine prioritization strategies by age and serostatus. Science. 2021 02 26; 371(6532):916-921.
PMID: 33479118

View All Publications

Neubauer Faculty Development Fellowship
University of Chicago
2016

James S. McDonnell Foundation Complex Systems Scholar Award
University of Chicago
2014

NIH New Innovator Award
University of Chicago
2014

NIH Kirchstein National Research Service Award
Harvard School of Public Health
2011

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
University of Michigan
2005

Sigma Xi Society
Princeton University
2002

Phi Beta Kappa
Princeton University
2002

Senior Book Prize, Ecology & Evolution
Princeton University
2002