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Institute for Genome Sciences Awarded NIAID Grant

The Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) has received a grant award of $15.2 million over five years from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to create a research center to apply genomic techniques to the study of pathogens and their hosts, and to expand understanding of the ways that pathogens can cause harm.

The IGS Genome Center for Infectious Diseases (GCID) will use large-scale genomics and bioinformatics approaches to investigate pathogen biology, virulence, drug resistance, immune invasion, host-microbiome interactions, and pathogen resistance. Specialized tracks will focus on host/pathogen inter-relationships for bacteria, fungi, and parasites. An interdisciplinary team will be leading the GCID research, including internationally recognized faculty from the Institute for Genome Sciences, the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Center for Vaccine Development at UMSOM. The uniquely qualified team includes investigators with extensive contacts within national and international infectious disease communities, whose previous research collaborations have involved a wide range of human pathogens.

"This team has been in the forefront of applying genomic techniques to advance scientific understanding of infectious disease agents, and the NIAID grant will catalyze further development of genomics approaches within global infectious disease communities," said Claire Fraser, PhD, director of the Institute for Genome Sciences, and professor of medicine, and microbiology and immunology at UMSOM.

"Integrating genomics with diagnostic and clinical medicine has advanced our biological understanding of diseases and health," said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland, and John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers distinguished professor and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "The NIAID grant will foster new collaborations across disciplines within the clinical and research centers in the School of Medicine, as well as within international infectious disease communities."

The grant, "Host, Pathogen, and the Microbiome: Determinants of Infectious Disease Outcome" will be led by Fraser, as principal investigator and administrative core director, and UMSOM colleagues David Rasko, PhD, and Owen White, PhD, will be team principal investigators.

The funding will support a technology core, a data management core, an immunology core, and an administrative core, as well as research programs that focus on three areas: host/bacterial pathogens and the microbiome, led by Rasko; the genomic analysis of fungal pathogenesis, led by UMSOM's Vincent Bruno, PhD; and integrated genomics research in parasitic tropical diseases led by IGS' Joana Silva, PhD and Julie Dunning Hotopp, PhD. The projects will include whole genome and targeted genome sequencing, transcriptome profiling by RNA-seq, rRNA community profiling, and metagenomics and metatranscriptomic sequencing. The sequencing will be performed using three platforms, including the Illumina MiSeq and HiSeq, and the Pacific Biosciences RSH system.
In addition to vital research projects, IGS will establish workshops and continue educational initiatives to expand the understanding of how to apply genomics to high-priority research questions that impact global health.

IGS has previously received grants as a Genome Sequencing Center for Infectious Diseases, an NIAID-funded five-year contract, and the lead investigators have also had principal investigator roles with the NIAID-funded Microbial Sequencing Center, a five-year contract. This U19 grant will run for five years until 2019.
Posting Date: 07/01/2014
Contact Name: Karen Warmkessel
Contact Phone: 410-706-5260
Contact Email: kwarmkessel@umm.edu