ASM Applauds $90M for CDC’s New Pathogen Genomics Centers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that $90 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan will support the Pathogen Genomics Centers of Excellence (PGCoE), a network of 5 state public health departments, in partnership with academic institutions, that will improve innovation in pathogen genomics, molecular epidemiology and bioinformatics. The PGCoE network is intended to prevent, control and respond to microbial threats to public health.
The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) commends the announcement. “Investing in genetic sequencing technologies is essential to envisioning clinical microbiology and public health labs of the future, identifying outbreaks sooner and protecting people from emerging and evolving disease threats,” said Stefano Bertuzzi, CEO, ASM. “These unique partnerships between public health and academic and research institutions will enable cutting edge science in research institutions to swiftly flow to the front lines of public health, leveraging the strengths of both systems for the betterment of all.”
Supporting and advancing pathogen genomics surveillance and sequencing is a top priority for ASM. ASM played an integral role in securing $1.7 billion for CDC’s Advanced Molecular Detection Program (AMD) via the American Rescue Plan to address COVID-19 variants and build longer term infrastructure for the program, including workforce training. ASM closely worked with Representatives Ami Bera and Scott Peters and Senator Tammy Baldwin to secure the funding. In the months since, Reps. Bera and Peters, and Sens. Baldwin and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) have introduced the Tracking Pathogens Act, legislation that would provide permanent authorization to these centers and bolster long-term funding for the AMD program. .
The 5 members of the PGCoE network 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 academic institutions partnering with each state public health department can be found here.
The PGCoEs will perform an analysis of gaps, needs and opportunities for genomics in the United States public health system; pilot and implement genomics technologies and applications; and prepare for and respond to infectious disease threats.
ASM looks forward to serving as a bridge between public health labs and private sector partnerships in this “all-hands-on-deck” approach to viral sequencing.