Dr. Rasmussen is a virologist studying host responses to infection by combining classical virology with modern systems biology approaches. Her research objectives are to identify host response signatures predictive of infection severity or disease outcome and host pathways to target drug development or repurposing. She is particularly interested in viruses that are highly pathogenic, newly emergent or likely to emerge because of climate change, land development, or ecological disruption.
Dr. Rasmussen has employed Collaborative Cross (CC) mouse models, which provide an expanded range of disease presentations, to study viral disease characteristics. At the University of Washington, she developed a CC mouse model of Ebola virus disease, utilizing the diversity of CC mouse disease phenotypes to study genetic and transcriptomic factors underlying disease severity in humans. She is currently evaluating CC mouse models towards investigation of sex-specific host responses to viral infection, as well as to investigate disease presentation in other viruses that pose a major threat to global public health, such as dengue and influenza viruses. Ultimately, these host response profiles can be used for translational or biodefense applications, such as diagnosing infection, predicting disease severity, informing vaccine design, and developing or repurposing host-targeted drugs to impair virus replication or reverse pathology.