U.S. opens funding for new Centers of Excellence in Public Health Pathogen Genomics

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced the availability of cooperation agreement fund for this fiscal year to establish the US Network of Pathogen Genomics Centers of Excellence (PGCoE).

The Biden administration originally announced plans for the PGCoE network in July 2021, with the goal of fostering innovation in pathogen genomics and molecular epidemiology to improve control and response to microbial threats from importance for public health.

The establishment of the PGCoE will accelerate the translation of relevant pathogen genomics technologies and innovations into the US public health system, particularly in public health agencies at the local, state, tribal, territorial, and national levels; improve the training of public health personnel in microbial genomics and genomic epidemiology; and develop rapid and scalable use of pathogen genomics to address infectious disease public health emergencies to improve the detection, characterization, and prevention of infectious disease threats.

The Network of Centers of Excellence aims to enable the public health system to better respond to infectious disease threats with resilience, flexibility, and the latest practical advances in laboratory technology, scientific computing, and applied research. The funded cooperation agreements will establish several centers of excellence, each consisting of a combination of a health department and one or more academic institutions for the purpose of networking together establish a platform to develop and identify relevant areas of genomics and related technologies, adapt them for use in public health, and pilot their application in real-world settings.

The network of health departments with their academic partners should also implement three other high-level strategies: the training of public health personnel, including bioinformaticians, microbiologists and epidemiologists, the preparation to respond to infectious threats and the response to infectious threats.

context

Rapid advances in genomic technologies are transforming public health, especially the prevention and control of infectious diseases. “Next-generation sequencing”, bioinformatics and genomic epidemiology are improving understanding of pathogen transmission and clinical features, including foodborne illness, tuberculosis, influenza, SARS-CoV- 2 and antimicrobial resistant organisms. Integrating these advances into everyday public health is a priority and can also present a challenge, especially given the rapid and continuous evolution of genomics, bioinformatics and related technologies.

Centers of Excellence in Pathogen Genomics should include:

  • Translation: develop, identify, refine, evaluate, pilot and implement technologies and practices relevant to public health
  • Education: develop practical training for public health professionals
  • Response base: developing the capacity to respond to infectious disease threats
  • Respond to infectious disease threats by applying genomic technologies and synthesizing various data
  • Lead the educational activities of the network and develop an online training program

Public health organizations will be the primary recipients of their respective awards and are expected to bring an in-depth understanding of public health priorities and practices as well as the needs of public health personnel. Academic centers (sub-recipients) are expected to provide expertise in microbial genomics and genomic epidemiology and access to relevant innovation and new technologies. The intention is for these groups to work in synergy, accelerating the application of genomics and related technologies in public health, initially focusing on the United States, but with a view to making innovations accessible globally. PGCoE should network and work with CDC, its programs, and other partners.

The translational strategy will be the primary and ongoing focus of the PGCoE Network and builds on
develop and identify technologies and approaches relevant to public health,
adapt and evaluate those for public health use, pilot those in real public health
and, where appropriate, help implement them in the public health system. In this
In this sense, the PGCoE network should be a technological “incubator” of the American public health system.

The educational strategy is based on identifying relevant educational needs of bioinformaticians, microbiologists and public health epidemiologists and developing training to meet those needs. The training developed will be primarily online and asynchronous, although some in-person training may also be supported.

Centers of Excellence in Public Health Pathogen Genomics in the United States. Centers for Disease Control – National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID). Funding opportunity number: CDC-RFA-CK22-2204. Total estimated program funding: $185,000,000. Estimated award date: September 30, 2022. Initial closing date for applications: May 17, 2022.

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