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NIAID Providing $13M to Fund 'Omics-based Pathogen/Host Modeling Studies

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases plans to fund new research projects that will harness powerful new 'omics technologies to create new models that map the course and progress of infectious diseases within their hosts.

NIAID expects to use $13 million this year to fund new studies to develop and validate 'omics-based predictive models of infectious disease initiation, progression, and outcomes, the institute said in a new request for applications posted on Friday.

The five-year projects will aim to use a combination of computational approaches and next-generation sequencing, proteomics, metabolomics, transcriptomics, and other 'omics technologies to identify, quantify, model, and predict host/pathogen interactions at the molecular level. According to NIAID, the massive volumes of new data 'omics technologies offer "an unprecedented opportunity for generating robust predictive models of the molecular processes occurring in the pathogen and the host at different stages of infection."

Such models could enhance the scientific community's knowledge of how molecular changes relate to phenotypes observed within a host during infection.

The projects NIAID plans to fund under this RFA include, but are not limited to, studies of human infectious diseases caused by pathogens in the institute's Emerging and Re-Emerging priority lists; studies of host/pathogen molecular networks across at least two species; studies of infected samples from human subjects or appropriate animal models that are relevant to human diseases; the use of two or more high-throughput 'omics technologies on matched samples to generate data that could be integrated into NIAID's disease modeling core; and repeated cycles of data generation, analysis and integration, and modeling of systems-wide networks, as well as predictions of microbial and host systems' responses to experimental changes, perturbations, and alterations.

In the RFA, NIAID emphasized that it has made significant investments in recent years in microbial genomics research, supporting programs such as the Genome Sequencing Centers for Infectious Diseases; the Bioinformatics Resource Centers; Clinical Proteomics Centers for Infectious Disease and Biodefense; Systems Biology Centers for Infectious Diseases; and Structural Genomics Centers for Infectious Diseases.

The institute also noted that it is expanding its systems biology program to expand and integrate data generated from its genomics efforts to "encourage a shift of thinking to adopt less traditional, more global and high-throughput approaches to conduct infectious diseases basic research, in order to provide insights into the biology of microbes, their role in pathogenesis and their interactions with the host."

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