Ruth Hershberg, PhD
Assistant Professor of Genetics
PhD, 2006 - Hebrew University, Israel
Studying how mutation and natural selection shape patterns of genomic variation
Theodosius Dobzhansky famously stated that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. After all, since biology in its entirety is the result of evolution, a full understanding of biological phenomena requires an understanding of how and why these phenomena evolved. Some medically important biological phenomena are not only the outcome of evolution, but are in fact themselves evolutionary processes. For example, cancer is a short-term evolutionary process that occurs within the affected body. Similarly the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance, and the emergence and diversification of pathogens are also evolutionary processes. By characterizing the dynamics of medically relevant evolutionary processes we should obtain a far better understanding of these processes and of the best strategies to use in order to modify them to our benefit. In my lab we investigate the dynamics of the major evolutionary forces of mutation and natural selection in such evolutionary processes as the accumulation and spread of antibiotic resistance, the diversification of pathogens and the initiation and progression of cancer. Research in my group is interdisciplinary and combines computational and experimental biology together with genomics and a strong grounding in evolutionary theory.
Bolotin E and Hershberg R. 2015. Gene loss dominates as a source of genetic variation within clonal bacterial species. Genome Biology and Evolution. 7, 2173-2187.
Reichenberger ER, Rosen G, Hershberg U*, and Hershberg R.* 2015. Prokaryotic nucleotide composition is shaped by both phylogeny and the environment. Genome Biology and Evolution. 7, 1380-1389. (*Co-last authors, co-contributing authors, article was highlighted by the journal (same issue pages 1390-1391)).
Field W and Hershberg R. 2015. Alarmingly high segregation frequencies of quinolone resistance alleles within human and animal microbiomes are not explained by direct clinical antibiotic exposure. Genome Biology and Evolution. 7, 1728-1742.
Ostrow SL, Barshir R, DeGregori J, Yeger-Lotem E, and Hershberg R. 2014. Cancer evolution is associated with pervasive positive selection on globally expressed genes. PLoS Genetics. 10, e1004239. (Article was featured in the Research Highlight section of Nature Reviews Genetics).
Katz S and Hershberg R. 2013. Elevated mutagenesis does not explain the increased frequency of antibiotic resistant mutants in starved aging colonies. PLoS Genetics. 9, e10039.