Professor Katrina Lythgoe

Research Interests

Evolution of Viruses:

I apply ecological and evolutionary theory to better predict the evolutionary dynamics of infectious disease in humans and other species, with the ultimate aim of informing public health decisions.  In particular, I am interested in disentangling the, often conflicting, selection pressures acting on pathogens at different ecological levels, and to assess the impact this has on the evolutionary epidemiology of infectious disease.  My approach is inter-disciplinary in nature, including the application and development of evolutionary theory, incorporating immunology into within-host models, using and making sense of next generation sequence data, and applying epidemiological theory. The current focus of my research is on HIV and hepatitis C virus, but the theory I develop has implications for our understanding of infectious disease more widely.


Nature-Inspired Urbanism:

Nature has inspired generations of urban designers and planners in pursuit of harmonious and functional built environments. However, existing ‘genetic’ or ‘evolutionary’ approaches to urbanism engage with science in only a limited and fragmented way. This EPSRC funded project brings together biological and urban academics (I am one of the biological co-investigators) to test the biological and ecological basis of analogues with the built environment, and hence build a scientifically credible paradigm establishing operative relationships between biology, ecology, urban design and planning. 


Editorial Boards:

  • Virus Evolution (Reviews Editor)
  • Evolution Letters (Founding Associate Editor)
  • Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (Advisory Editorial Board)

I am a strong supporter of people who have had ‘alternative’ scientific career paths, and believe a good support network is vital: I returned to research with the help of a Wellcome Trust Career Re-Entry Fellowship, during which I worked part-time, and I was also awarded a L'Oreal UNESCO Fellowship for Women in Science.  Before that, I was the Editor of Trends in Ecology & Evolution for seven years and had two children. 



I welcome enquiries from people who would be interested in joining my group either as a postdoc or PhD student.  Please send a CV and a description of your research interests.

Selected Publications

Lythgoe, K.A., A. Gardner, O. Pybus, J. Grove (2017) Short sighted virus evolution and a germline hypothesis of chronic viral infections. Trends in Microbiology 25(5): 336-348

Doekes, H., C. Fraser, K.A. Lythgoe (2017) Effect of the latent reservoir on the evolution of HIV at the within- and between-host scales. PLoS Computational Biology 13(1): e1005228

Lythgoe, K.A., F. Blanquart, L. Pellis, C. Fraser (2016) Large variations in HIV-1 viral load explained by shifting-mosaic metapopulation dynamics. PLoS Biology 14(10): e1002567

Fraser, C., K. Lythgoe*, G.E. Leventhal, G.Shirreff, T.D. Hollingsworth, S. Alizon, S. Bonhoeffer* (2014) Virulence and pathogenesis of HIV-1 infection: an evolutionary perspective. Science 343:124372 (*indicates equal contribution).

Lythgoe, K.A.*, L.Pellis* & C. Fraser (2013) Is HIV short-sighted? Insights from a multi-strain nested model. Evolution 67:2769-82 (*indicates joint first authorship)

Lythgoe, K.A. & C. Fraser (2012) New insights into the evolutionary rate of HIV-1 at the within- and between-host levels. Proc. Roy. Soc. B 279:3367-75

Lythgoe, K.A., L.J. Morrison, A.F. Read & J.D. Barry (2007) Parasite-intrinsic factors can explain ordered progression of trypanosome antigenic variation. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 104:8095-8100

Lythgoe, K.A. (2000) The coevolution of parasites with host-acquired immunity and the evolution of sex. Evolution 54:1142-1156