Shannon Russell is a senior scientist in translational genomics at the BCCDC Public Health Laboratory (PHL). She is also a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the UBC Faculty of Medicine.
Dr. Russell's current work focuses on the research and implementation of translational genomics of emerging pathogens, antimicrobial-resistant organisms and other hospital-associated infections. The most rewarding part of her current role at the PHL is the tangible impact it has on public health. Genomics can transform our understanding of outbreaks, in some cases revealing the chain of transmission, a point source or linkages between "sporadic" cases.
Dr. Russell's PhD thesis work examined how antibiotic perturbation of the gastrointestinal microbiome in early life increases sensitization to allergic airways disease. Her postdoctoral research in Africa focused on Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) pathogenesis and understanding how the Mtb modulates immunity by altering T cell metabolism. Over the last fifteen years, she has studied Salmonella, enteropathogenic E. coli, T. pallidum, Toxoplasma gondii, various "good gut bugs", M. tuberculosis, assorted antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and SARS-CoV-2.
Dr. Russell completed her PhD in microbiology and immunology at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2014. She then conducted global health-related postdoctoral research on tuberculosis at the Wellcome Trust-funded Africa Health Research Institute in Durban, South Aftrica.
Dr. Russell joined the PHL as a research associate in 2018 and became involved in research projects focused on One Health genomic surveillance of enteric pathogens, which was work undertaken to better understand source attribution and inform new intervention strategies along the farm-to-fork food chain. In 2020, she became the interim outbreak coordinator and worked with the PHL team to operationalize SARS-CoV-2 genomics. This work was important for detection and surveillance of emerging variants, and for understanding transmission dynamics in different healthcare and community settings. As a senior scientist at BCCDC since 2021, Dr. Russell works closely with medical and public health colleagues around the province to apply genomics-based approaches to pathogens of public health importance, informing public health measures, outbreak response, and infection prevention and control policy.
For Dr. Russell’s selected publications, please see the following: