Date of Conferral





Public Health


Ji Shen


The lack of vaccines for emerging and re-emerging diseases highlights technical gaps and indicates a need for innovative approaches to produce new vaccines. Vaccines may be improved by knowledge of host responses to vaccination, disease pathogenesis, and the effect of age and genetics on vaccine outcome. This study's purpose was to quantitatively assess the molecular epidemiology of Francisella tularensis (Ft) and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus (VEEV). Study results support the Epidemiology Nexus model which holds that association of changes in gene expression to vaccination facilitate understanding the mechanisms of immune development and link public health and disease epidemiology. My research questions assessed the relationship between gene expression following vaccination, the relationship between age and vaccine response, and the association between Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) allele and vaccine response. The study was a novel secondary analysis of human data subjected to ANOVA to measure association between treatment and outcome, correlation to measure association of age with vaccine outcome, and Mann-Whitney U tests to measure association of HLA allele with vaccine outcome. Both Ft and VEEV vaccination elicited significant changes in gene expression. A highly positive relationship between age and vaccine outcome was shown for VEEV. The results may affect positive social change by contributing to a growing compendium of evidence of vaccine efficacy mechanisms that may function to assure the public of vaccine safety, combat vaccine hesitancy, and promote vaccine acceptance, as well as contribute mechanistic knowledge to reduce developmental costs of novel vaccines.