Taj Azarian, PhD MPH

Dr. Taj Azarian is currently an assistant professor at the Burnett School of Biomedical Science, University of Central Florida.  His lab uses pathogen genomics to investigate the emergence and spread of bacterial infectious diseases, with a specific interest in antibiotic-resistant pathogens that are frequent causes of healthcare-associated infections. To accomplish this, they use a variety of tools including epidemiology, bioinformatics, computational biology, population genomics, and phylogenetics.  The Azarian lab’s goal is to understand the factors that contribute to pathogen success and to develop new genomic epidemiological methods to detect, monitor, and combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.

Assistant Professor, Genomics and Bioinformatics Cluster
Burnett School of Biomedical Science, College of Medicine
University of Central Florida

Education and Training
2018 – Harvard University, Postdoctoral Fellow. Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. Laboratories of William P Hanage and Marc Lipsitch
2015 – University of Florida, PhD in Epidemiology.  Laboratory of Marco Salemi
2009 – Florida Department of Health. Fellow.  Florida Epidemic Intelligence Service
2007 – University of Florida, Masters in Public Health. Epidemiology
2004 – University of Florida, B.S. Microbiology

Eleonora CellaDr. Eleonora Cella is currently a Post-doctoral Scholar at Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences in the laboratory of Dr. Azarian.  Her research is focused on microbial evolutionary dynamics and molecular epidemiology of infectious diseases.

Her experience is in the use of cutting edge genomic tools, analyzing next-generation sequencing data, and using advanced phylogenetic analytical algorithms and bioinformatics tools.

Education and training
2018 – Post-doctoral fellow at the University Campus Bio-medico of Rome, Rome, Italy
2017 – PhD in Public Health and Infectious Diseases at the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy.
2013 – Masters in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Rome, Italy.
2011 – Bachelor in Human Biology at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Rome, Italy

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20210902_174514Dr. Sayf Al-Deen Hassouneh is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Burnett School of Biomedical sciences in the laboratory of Dr. Taj Azarian. His previous research focused on the analyzing the differences between healthy gut microbiomes across geographical regions, as well as the analysis of healthy and diseased gut microbiomes using compositional data analysis methodologies. He has also conducted research analyzing the effects of SNP’s in the _TL1A_ gene on Crohn’s disease prevalence and response to therapeutics. Currently, his research centers around the use of next-gen sequencing for genomics, metagenomics, and molecular epidemiology.



Profile photo for Noah

My name is Noah Greenman. I am a PhD student in Dr. Azarian’s lab in fall of 2019. I received my Bachelor of Science at James Madison University (JMU) in spring of 2016 and my Master of Science at JMU in Spring of 2019. My academic interests have always been in cell and molecular biology, with a growing fascination with bioinformatics. My masters thesis focused on the prevalence of Salmonella enterica in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with a focus on the prevalence of mobile genetic elements conferring antimicrobial resistance genes. My focus in Dr. Azarian’s lab involves developing metagenomic techniques using Oxford Nanopore Technologies long-read sequencing data and applying metagenomics to studying disease. Outside of school, I am a very active person who enjoys working out regularly, especially weightlifting. My hobbies include video gaming, drawing, cooking, socializing with friends and colleagues, reading, and writing stories.

SoburSobur Ali is a PhD student in Dr. Azarian’s lab at Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, UCF. His research interest is the understanding of the evolution of emerging infectious pathogens specially SARS-CoV-2. He previously graduated with a BS and MS in Microbiology from the University of Dhaka. Prior to coming to UCF, I worked at icddr,b Dhaka, in Environmental Microbiology Lab studying bacterial pathogenicity, antibiotic resistance, and diversity.

IMG_3167My name is Smitha Shambhu and I am a graduate student in Biomedical Sciences at the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences and working in the Azarian lab for my masters thesis. My current research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of horizontal gene transfer in Streptococcus pneumoniae and variations influenced by changes in gene expression. I am interested in learning more about how molecular biology and genomics help us understand different facets of bacterial pathogenesis. Working in this laboratory has really fostered my interest in the impact of biomedical research on public health.

picMy name is Wageha Talib. I am a graduate student at the University of Central Florida in the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences. I am working in the Azarian Lab for my master’s thesis. My research interest has always been genomic studies of pathogenic microorganisms. My previous research work was on isolation, molecular diagnosis, and antibiotic resistant profile studies of Acinetobacter from human and animal origins. My current research focuses on investigating the impact of quorum sensing on polymicrobial interactions in cystic fibrosis patients. I always have a keen interest in learning bioinformatics which is being nurtured in our lab. My hobbies include meditation, yoga, gardening, reading books, cooking, and socializing with friends.



Julia Webb graduated from UCF with a degree in Biomedical Sciences, and is currently earning her Master’s in Biotechnology. She is interested in Genomics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology, and she plans to pursue a PhD and begin a career in the Biotech industry. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, playing the piano, and spending time outdoors.




IMG_2065My name is Anita Samadabadi, I’m a fourth year biomedical sciences major. I’ve had the honor to be a part of the Azarian Lab since Fall of 2018. I have been involved in our Cystic Fibrosis project with collaboration with Nemours Children’s Hospital. I’m planning to go to medical school and I am interested in Pediatrics and Emergency medicine. In my free time I love practicing yoga, reading books, baking, and knitting.

JubyDr. Mohammad Jubair completed a post-doctoral fellowship Scholar at Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences in the laboratory of Dr. Azarian. He holds a Bachelor and Masters in Microbiology and PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Dhaka in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He currently works as a research scientist for icddr,b in Dhaka, Bengledesh.

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