The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $25 million to the not-for-profit J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) to establish and operate a Genome Center for Infectious Diseases. Scientists at JCVI, which has offices in Maryland and California, will use the five-year grant to study the genetic characteristics of various bacteria, viruses and parasites, as part of an effort to develop treatments and preventative measures for infectious diseases such as malaria and influenza. JCVI investigators will lead the research along with more than 50 collaborators at approximately 40 international research organizations.

“This grant is going to allow us to get a better understanding of emerging infectious diseases and microbial resistance,” said JCVI President Karen Nelson. “It’s also going to push the envelope in having the biggest database, for example, in the viral world. We have sequenced the most influenza genomes to date, and we’re going to expand that.”

Among other things, program goals include (i) enhancing understanding of pathogen drug resistance and identifying approaches to manage human infections by drug-resistant organisms; (ii) gaining new insight into microbial diversity and the evolution of pathogen populations and how they affect human infectious diseases; (iii) identifying mechanisms and consequences of pathogen modulation of host response to infection and understanding how the pathogen interacts with host immune systems and microbiomes; (iv) characterizing the genomic variation in and virulence of infectious diseases; and (v) exploring human immunity to malaria and influenza.

Research findings and outcomes will reportedly be available to the broad scientific community without proprietary restrictions. See JCVI News Release and UTSanDiego.com, June 5, 2014.