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JCVI Wins NIAID Infectious Disease Genomics Grant Worth up to $25M

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The J. Craig Venter Institute has received an award of up to $25 million over five years from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to create a research center that will aim to better understand infectious pathogens and the ways they cause harm, JCVI said today.

The Genome Center for Infectious Diseases (GCID) will use DNA sequencing and analysis and bioinformatics tools to investigate pathogen biology, virulence, drug resistance, immune evasion, and host-microbiome interactions. The data from these projects, which will be separated into three tracks focused on viruses, bacteria, and parasites, will be made available to the broader research community, JVCI said.

Specifically, the researchers at the center will seek to understand pathogen resistance and identify approaches for managing human infections by drug-resistant organisms, as well as study microbial diversity and evolution in pathogen populations and how they impact human diseases. They will try to identify the mechanisms and consequences of hosts' responses to infection, and how the pathogen interacts with a host's microbiome and immune system. The GCID scientists also will characterize the genomic variation and virulence of infectious diseases and study human immunity to malaria and influenza.

"Since the earliest days of the institute, pathogen genomics and infectious disease research has been one of our key focus areas given the grave health and economic toll infectious diseases take on societies globally," JCVI Founder and CEO J. Craig Venter said in a statement.

The funding will support a technology core, a data management and analysis core, and an administrative core, as well as three research programs that focus on antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens, sequence-based analyses of parasite diversity and host interactions, and using viral genomics to understand disease.

The cores will be divided by their focus areas into sequencing, primary data analyses, and comparative analysis. The sequencing will include whole genome and targeted sequencing, transcriptome profiling by RNA-seq, rRNA profiling, and metagenomics and metatranscriptomic sequencing.

The sequencing will be performed using six platforms, including the Illumina MiSeq and HiSeq, the Ion Torrent, ABI 3730x, 454 FLX+, and Pacific Biosciences' RS II system.

These research projects will be headed by JCVI President Karen Nelson; William Nierman and Suman Das of the Infectious Disease Group; Scientific Director Mark Adams; and Granger Sutton, a professor of informatics.

The studies also will involve more than 50 collaborators at roughly 40 research organizations around the world, JCVI said.

Through earlier NIAID programs, JCVI has previously received grants as a Microbial Sequencing Center and as a Genome Sequencing Center for Infectious Diseases.

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