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CDC announces $90M to improve innovation and pathogen genomics

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Friday that it has established a Pathogen Genomics Centers of Excellence (PGCoE) network with $90 million in funding support to five laboratories and their academic partners.

The CDC said in a statement that the PGCoE network will foster and improve innovation and technical capacity in pathogen genomics, molecular epidemiology, and bioinformatics, with the goal of improving prevention, control, and response to microbial threats to public health.

The five-year funding awards will go to five state public health labs that will each be partnered with one or more academic institutions, the CDC said.

The five labs 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.

The PGCoEs will serve as a network to perform “a landscape analysis of gaps, needs, and opportunities for genomics in the US public health system,” the CDC said, as well as to pilot and implement genomics technologies and applications for public health and to prepare for and respond to infectious disease threats.

Christopher Braden, the acting director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, said that the collaborations between public health labs and academic partners in collecting and analyzing genomic data on SARS-CoV-2 have been critical to the agency’s COVID-19 response.

“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,” Braden said.

A total of $1.7 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan is helping to support current and future genomic surveillance, the CDC noted. These funds include $400 million for innovation, and approximately $90 million of that amount will support the PGCoE network over the next five years, the agency said.

The CDC also announced the specific academic institutions partnering with each public health lab to form the Centers of Excellence within the PGCoE network.

The Georgia Department of Public Health will partner with six academic institutions. These include the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech Research Institute, Emory University, Augusta University, Georgia State University, and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health will partner with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard as its lead academic partner. Other partners include Boston University, Mass General Brigham hospital network, Yale University, Fathom Information Design, and Theiagen Genomics.

This node of the network will also serve as lead CoE for education with Harvard Medical School, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and the Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness (MassCPR).

The Minnesota Department of Health will have the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic as primary partners, the CDC said.

The Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services will partner with the Virginia Department of Health, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the University of Virginia.

And the Washington State Department of Health will partner with the University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, and the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, and also with Public Health – Seattle & King County.

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