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CDC Earmarks $2.3M for NGS, Bioinformatic Approaches to Combat Infectious Disease

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week that it has earmarked roughly $2.3 million in fiscal 2016 to support the rollout of next-generation sequencing (NGS) and bioinformatics technologies for the advanced detection of infectious disease outbreaks in select US states.

The funding is being allocated through the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreement (ELC), which is tasked with helping states and communities address known and emerging infectious diseases.

According to Duncan MacCannell, senior advisor for bioinformatics at the CDC, the money specifically comes from the CDC's Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD) initiative, a five-year, $150 million effort kicked off in late 2013 to bolster the ELC's mission by joining traditional epidemiology with NGS and bioinformatics.

"Last year, we put out some money through ELC … [for the AMD program to] get a lot of the pieces we need at the CDC in place and invest in core [sequencing and computing] infrastructure," he said. With the $2.3 million, the CDC is "starting to push these technologies out to the states" to enable them to more quickly identify and respond to disease outbreaks.

Among the programs supported by the $2.3 million are ones that aim to use AMD technologies to address food-borne and healthcare-associated pathogens, antimicrobial resistance, influenza, hepatitis viruses, and tuberculosis.

In the coming years, the CDC is expected to allocate additional funding to support additional AMD projects in a greater number of states, MacCannell said.

"We need to make sure [AMD] is going to scale up … in a way that is robust and sustainable," he said. "So it will pick up steam over the course of time."

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