Five state public health departments will receive $90 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the next five years to develop a network of pathogen genomics centres of excellence.
In order to analyse the gaps, needs, and potential for genomics in the American public health system, those who receive awards will collaborate as a network. The network is anticipated to test genomics applications and technologies for public health, as well as get ready for and respond to threats from infectious diseases.
The organisations that will benefit from this funding include the Minnesota Department of Health; the Washington State Department of Health, the Georgia Department of Public Health; the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services; and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Each one has relationships with a single or more academic institutions. According to the CDC, this creates an opportunity for public health organisations in the United States to work more closely with academic institutions to create a national resource that will promote genomic surveillance.
The American Rescue Plan has provided funding totaling $1.7 billion to support both ongoing and future genomic surveillance. In addition to $90 million for network support over the next five years, these funds also include $400 million for innovation.
The COVID-19 pandemic gave rise to the network of Pathogen Genomics Centers of Excellence. The COVID-19 response over the past couple of years has been crucial to the work with public health and academic partners to collect and evaluate SARS-CoV-2 genomic data, stated acting director, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Dr. Christopher R. Braden.
They can ensure that public health is progressive, strong, and resilient in the future by building on that expertise by creating the Pathogen Genomics Centers of Excellence, a partnership between state health departments and educational institutions.
In order to better prevent and control infections, the network aims to promote and enhance technical innovation and capacity in pathogen genomes, molecular epidemiology, and bioinformatics and react to microbial risks that are significant for public health, according to the CDC.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC has collaborated with national organisations like the Association of Public Health Laboratories, academic and clinical laboratories, public health laboratories, large private sector diagnostic networks, and national organisations to demonstrate and broaden a thorough genomic monitoring effort centred on large-scale sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants.
To combat the COVID-19 pandemic, academic partners have gathered scientific resources and established cooperative relationships. These collaborations have produced ground-breaking uses of genetic epidemiology in public health. The CDC stated that the network will expand on these partnerships in the future for SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses of public health significance.
The CDC’s Office of Advanced Molecular Detection’s Lead for Extramural Innovation, Dr. Ellie Click, stated that pathogen genomics has seen a great increase in creativity and cooperation among academia and public health over the past several years as a result of the collective response to COVID-19. The Centers of Excellence will act as a hub for continued collaboration and innovation to guide how we address the danger of infectious diseases.