Angela Lynn Rasmussen
|Alma mater||Smith College 04, BA, 2000|
Columbia University, PhD, 2009
|Spouse(s)||Alexei Leonidovich Krasnoselsky|
|Fields||Virology, Host-Pathogen Interactions|
|Institutions||Columbia University, University of Washington, University of Saskatchewan|
|Thesis||Development of a mouse model of rhinovirus infection (2009)|
|Doctoral advisor||Vincent Racaniello|
Education and early career
During graduate school, Rasmussen worked in the laboratory of Vincent Racaniello where she developed a mouse model of rhinovirus infection in order to better understand the pathogenesis of illnesses caused by the virus, such as the common cold.
Rasmussen joined the faculty at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, where she worked as an Associate Research Scientist. There, she studied how hosts respond to infectious diseases like SARS and Ebola.
During her tenure at University of Washington, she studied the response of mice to ebolavirus infection. The traditional mouse model, which is derived from a uniform genetic background, dies after being infected with the virus before the classical symptoms of the disease show up, making it difficult to study the pathogenesis of the virus. Instead, Rasmussen and her team took advantage of a genetically diverse collection of mice, known as the Collaborative Cross; when infecting this collection of mice with ebolavirus, they observed a wide range of disease outcomes, ranging from complete resistance to the virus to severe hemorrhagic fever. They concluded that the genetic background of the mice therefore plays a role in their susceptibility to the virus. By understanding which genes in mice affect the course of infection, they can better determine which genes make humans more susceptible to the disease—and why some humans die, while others survive.
Rasmussen continued work on understanding genetic susceptibility with Ebola at Columbia University. There, she identified a gene expression signature that may predict the severity of Ebola infection. Rasmussen and collaborators have also used human cell lines to investigate the course of infection. Upon infection, ebolavirus first targets macrophages, or white blood cells that engulf and clear away pathogens, which in turn release inflammatory cytokines that recruit more immune cells to the site of the infection to kill off infected tissue. If cytokine release goes unchecked it can lead to a profound inflammatory response—known as a cytokine storm—that can kill off healthy tissue, as is the case with an ebolavirus infection. She and collaborators found that inhibiting the inflammatory response of virus-infected macrophages could be a potential therapeutic target, preventing a cytokine storm from occurring.
Rasmussen's work investigating the heterogeneity in Ebola infections has translated into developing hypotheses around why some COVID-19 cases are worse than others.
She has also been on the frontlines of communication around the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, applying her expertise in correspondence with the popular press to interpret preliminary results around how long immunity to the virus may last, how effective potential drugs may be in treating the disease, and whether biological sex plays a role in the severity of the disease. Given the breakneck pace at which preliminary research results have been released—for example, through preprints—she has urged caution in reporting research findings too quickly and without the proper caveats to ensure the public is not misinformed.
Rasmussen has served on a National Institutes of Health working group on "Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment" in biomedical research fields. She formerly served on the leadership of the organization MeTooSTEM, before stepping down in February 2020 due to concerns around the organization's leadership and allegations of abuse.
- "Dr. Angela Rasmussen". Dr. Angela Rasmussen. Retrieved 2021-04-27.
- Rasmussen, Angela L.; Racaniello, Vincent R. (2011-11-25). "Selection of Rhinovirus 1A Variants Adapted for Growth in Mouse Lung Epithelial Cells". Virology. 420 (2): 82–88. doi:10.1016/j.virol.2011.08.021. ISSN 0042-6822. PMC 3205939. PMID 21943827.
- Walsh, James D. (2020-01-31). "How Worried Should We Be About Coronavirus?". Intelligencer. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
- "Modeling Ebola in Mice". The Scientist Magazine®. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
- Feltman, Rachel (2014-10-13). "Can your genes affect your response to Ebola? That's the case in these mice". Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
- "Genes 'play role in Ebola survival'". BBC News. 2014-10-31. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
- Ziv, Stav (2014-10-30). "Why Do Some Die From Ebola and Others Survive?". Newsweek. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
- "Ebola Virus Response Signature Emerges From Mouse Gene Expression Data". GenomeWeb. 11 February 2020. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
- Olejnik, Judith; Forero, Adriana; Deflubé, Laure R.; Hume, Adam J.; Manhart, Whitney A.; Nishida, Andrew; Marzi, Andrea; Katze, Michael G.; Ebihara, Hideki; Rasmussen, Angela L.; Mühlberger, Elke (2017-05-11). "Ebolaviruses Associated with Differential Pathogenicity Induce Distinct Host Responses in Human Macrophages". Journal of Virology. 91 (11). doi:10.1128/JVI.00179-17. ISSN 1098-5514. PMC 5432886. PMID 28331091.
- "Silence is golden: Suppressing host response to Ebola virus may help to control infection". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
- "Why Some COVID-19 Cases Are Worse than Others". The Scientist Magazine®. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
- "Monkeys Develop Protective Antibodies to SARS-CoV-2". The Scientist Magazine®. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
- Mooney, Chris; Rolfe, Pamela (2020-03-26). "Men are getting sicker, dying more often of covid-19, Spain data shows". Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
- Peeples, Lynne (2020-03-30). "News Feature: Avoiding pitfalls in the pursuit of a COVID-19 vaccine". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 117 (15): 8218–8221. doi:10.1073/pnas.2005456117. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 7165470. PMID 32229574.
- "Here's what coronavirus does to the body". Science. 2020-02-18. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
- "ACD Working Group on Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment". NIH Advisory Committee to the Director. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
- "The Leading #MeToo Activist Group In Science Is In Turmoil After More Leaders Resign". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
- Wadman, Meredith (2020-03-02). "Update: MeTooSTEM board members stand by embattled founder". Science | AAAS. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
- Official website
- Angela Rasmussen publications indexed by Google Scholar