Researchers from the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) have won a five-year, up-to-$25 million grant from NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to establish and operate a Genome Center for Infectious Diseases (GCID).

Co- principal investigators Karen Nelson, Ph.D., JCVI’s president and William Nierman, Ph.D., a professor with the institute’s Infectious Disease Group, will lead the research, which is expected to involve more than 50 collaborators at some 40 research organizations worldwide.

The JCVI-led team will apply next-generation DNA sequencing technologies, as well as new bioinformatics and computing capabilities, with the intent of enhancing understanding of pathogen biology, virulence, drug resistance, immune evasion, and host microbiome biological interactions.

JCVI received funding in past years toward a NIAID Microbial Sequencing Center and a Genomic Sequencing Center for Infectious Diseases. GCID will build on that past work while striving to:

  • Enhance understanding of pathogen drug resistance and identify approaches to manage human infections by drug resistant organisms.
  • Gain new insight into microbial diversity and evolution of pathogen populations and how these impact human infectious diseases.
  • Identify mechanisms and consequences of pathogen modulation of host response to infection, and understand how the pathogen interacts with host immune system and the host microbiome.
  • Characterize the genomic variation in and virulence of infectious diseases.
  • Explore human immunity to malaria and influenza.

The grant for funding GCID is officially titled: The J. Craig Venter Institute Genome Center for Infectious Diseases, award number U19AI110819.

GCID will be divided into research projects, each focused on viruses, bacteria and parasites. Other JCVI researchers working on GCID include Mark Adams, Ph.D., scientific director; Granger Sutton, Ph.D., professor, informatics; and Suman Das, Ph.D., assistant professor of JCVI’s Infectious Disease Group.

“We are very pleased to be the recipients of this major grant from NIAID and look forward to enabling a more in-depth understanding of pathogen biology and potentially aiding in better treatments and preventative measures against infectious disease,” Dr. Venter said yesterday in a statement. 

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