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BugSeq Bioinformatics, Philippine Genome Center Mindanao Team on Infectious Disease Surveillance

NEW YORK – BugSeq Bioinformatics said Saturday that it has formed a partnership with the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) Mindanao to create a genomics-based infectious disease surveillance system in the Philippines.

The partnership is funded by a subgrant from the Public Health Alliance for Genomic Epidemiology (PHA4GE) program, which itself was funded through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation under a program that aims to support SARS-CoV-2 sequencing laboratories in low- to middle-income countries in Africa and Asia.

PGC Mindanao will use the funding to implement standardized bioinformatics practices, pipelines, and data structures for SARS-CoV-2 research.

Vancouver, British Columbia-based BugSeq will provide data analysis services, including variant calling, report generation, and quality control for the surveillance system. PGC Mindanao, a research center in Davao City on the island of Mindanao, will also run its own bioinformatics analysis to verify BugSeq's results.

"This grant will help strengthen our capabilities for bioinformatics research," said former PGC Mindanao Director Lyre Anni Murao, who initiated the project and recently became chancellor of the University of the Philippines Mindanao. "We build stronger research engagements, one step at a time."

PHA4GE has set goals of enabling standard data collection, storage, sharing, and submission to databases. To this end, the program has developed contextual data specification products, including submission templates and scripts.

PGC Mindanao will use these resources to send its sequences and supporting contextual data to the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration (INSDC). The center will also publish documentation of the project to the research platform.