Dr Michael Gaunt D Phil (Oxon)

Assistant Professor in Genome Parasitology


I have previously held a Wellcome Trust junior research fellowship and  RCUK fellow in molecular parasitology and lecturer.

The work is focused on using evolutionary models to understand the molecular epidemiology or "microevolution" and "macroevolution" of the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi the causative agent of South American trypanosomiasis and its insect vector triatomine bugs.

Microevolution: T. cruzi is a zoonose and the genetic relationship, or "population structure", between sylvatic mammals and human reservoir hosts could have important public health implications.  We have developed a population genomics method using "microsatellite" genetic markers that provides the most accurate typing tool available for T. cruzi. The application of this tool to field isolates demonstrates T. cruzi has a complex epidemiology. For example, some ecotopes show a close genetic association between sylvatic hosts (rodents) and humans but other ecotopes (opossums) show a mixture of close and distant genetic associations. The microsatellites panel identified multiclonal infections as being much more important than previously thought.

Macroevolution: Our evolutionary studies on triatomine bugs revealed the insect evolved blood-feeding behaviour once and this occurred exactly at the same time as the formation of South America. Finally, theoretical work on evolutionary models reveals that several commonly used assumptions (mutation matrices) may result in erroneous epidemiological inferences. Refining these models provides new epidemiological insights.

Webpages: cluster computing




Module Organiser: Molecular Virology Teaching: Phylogenetics 


Examples of research achievements include: 


Research areas

  • Bayesian Analysis
  • Climate change
  • Environmental Health
  • Insects
  • Modelling
  • Parasites
  • Protozoa
  • Statistical methods
  • Trypanosomes


  • Genetic epidemiology
  • Genetics
  • Genomics
  • Molecular biology
  • Molecular epidemiology
  • Parasitology

Disease and Health Conditions

  • African trypanosomiasis
  • Chagas Disease
  • Infectious disease
  • Leishmaniasis
  • Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)


  • Latin America & Caribbean (all income levels)
  • Latin America & Caribbean (developing only)


  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Mexico

Other interests

  • Analysis
  • Analysis Of Longitudinal Data
  • Bayesian And Bootstrap Methods
  • Biodiversity
  • Clinical Isolates
  • Ecology
  • Evolution
  • Genetic Exchange
  • Genome Wide Association Scans
  • Longitudinal Data
  • Longitudinal analysis
  • Microarrays
  • Next Generation Sequencing
  • Penalized Regression Spline
  • Population Genetics
  • Population genomics
  • Population modelling
  • SEM
  • Statistical methodology
  • Statistical modelling
  • brazil
  • epidemiology
  • parasites
Back to top