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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced $90 million will be awarded over the next five years to five state public health departments to establish the Pathogen Genomics Centers of Excellence network.
Those awarded will serve as a network to perform an analysis of gaps, needs and opportunities for genomics in the United States public health system. The network is expected to pilot and implement genomics technologies and applications for public health and prepare for and respond to infectious disease threats.
The recipients are the Georgia Department of Public Health; the Minnesota Department of Health; the Massachusetts Department of Public Health; the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services; and the Washington State Department of Health.
Each is partnered with one or more academic institutions. This represents an opportunity to expand and deepen collaboration between U.S. public health agencies and universities to form a national resource that will advance genomic surveillance, the CDC said.
A total of $1.7 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan is helping to support current and future genomic surveillance. These funds include $400 million for innovation and $90 million to support the network over the next five years.
WHY THIS MATTERS
The Pathogen Genomics Centers of Excellence network arose out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The collaboration with our public health and academic partners to conduct and analyze SARS-CoV-2 genomic data has been critical to our COVID-19 response over the past couple years.” said Dr. Christopher R. Braden, acting director, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.
“Building upon that experience by establishing the Pathogen Genomics Centers of Excellence, a collaboration among state health departments and educational institutions, will help us ensure that public health is innovative, robust and resilient in the future.”
The network is intended to foster and improve innovation and technical capacity in pathogen genomics, molecular epidemiology, and bioinformatics to better prevent, control. and respond to microbial threats of public health importance, the CDC said.
THE LARGER TREND
Since early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC has worked with public health laboratories, academic and clinical laboratories, national organizations, such as the Association of Public Health Laboratories and large private sector diagnostic networks to establish and expand a comprehensive genomic surveillance effort focused on large-scale sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants.
Academic partners have mobilized scientific resources and built collaborative partnerships to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. These partnerships have led to innovative applications of genomic epidemiology in public health.
The network will build on these collaborations for SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens of public health concern in the future, the CDC said.
ON THE RECORD
Dr. Ellie Click, CDC’s Lead for Extramural Innovation in the Office of Advanced Molecular Detection said, “Over the last few years, the collective response to COVID-19 fostered a huge amount of creativity and collaboration between academia and public health in pathogen genomics. The Centers of Excellence will serve as a platform for ongoing partnership and innovation to inform how we tackle infectious disease threats.”
Email the writer: SMorse@himss.org