The JCVI-Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation-Vecna Team, which includes researchers from the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), has been awarded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) a $23 million contract for up to five years to renew its Bioinformatics Resource Centers (BRC) for Infectious Diseases Viral Project. 

The BRC project, which began in 2004, develops and augments the Influenza Research Database (IRD) and the Virus Pathogen Resource (ViPR). IRD and ViPR, the team says, are human pathogenic virus databases that help scientists to conduct research into the control and elimination of those pathogens. Influenza, Ebola, dengue, SARS/MERS, hepatitis C, chikungunya, and enterovirus D68 are among the viruses contained in these databases. The team adds that the databases attract over 2,000 unique users from 170 countries each week, and the research gleaned from them has contributed to more than 270 scientific publications.

Richard Scheuermann, Ph.D., JCVI's director of informatics, is the principal investigator on this award. Other JCVI researchers working on the BRC project include Brian Aevermann, Alexandra Lee, Doug Greer, Yun Zhang, Lucy Stewart, Tim Stockwell, and Reed Shabman. In addition to those from JCVI, researchers from the University of Auckland, UC-Davis, Harvard Medical School, University of Maryland at College Park, Purdue University, and the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston are all co-investigators on this award. Vecna Technologies is a subcontractor.

“We are very pleased to continue our work on this important NIAID project,” Dr. Scheuermann said in a statement. “The Viral Bioinformatics Resource Center project complements the strengths in viral genomics, pathogenesis, and vaccine production at JCVI and is an essential aid to researchers tackling the new and emerging biological threats the world faces today.”

This past June, JCVI also won a five-year, up-to-$25 million NIAID grant to establish and operate a Genome Center for Infectious Diseases, through which a JCVI-led team would apply next-generation DNA sequencing technologies to enhance understanding of pathogen biology, virulence, drug resistance, immune evasion, and host microbiome biological interactions.