Influenza Genome Sequencing Project Is Launched

The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) will sequence a large number of human isolates of the influenza virus as part of a landmark influenza genome sequencing project announced Monday by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

From TIGR:

Influenza Genome Sequencing Project Is Launched

The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) will sequence a large number of human isolates of the influenza virus as part of a landmark influenza genome sequencing project announced Monday by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The influenza sequencing project aims to help scientists better understand the emergence of annual influenza outbreaks — as well as the occasional emergence of pandemic influenza viruses — by shedding light on how flu viruses evolve as they spread through the population.

TIGR’s role in the project is being carried out as part of its contract as a NIAID Microbial Sequencing Center. All of the influenza sequencing data will be posted to Genbank, an international online database funded by the NIH.

As part of the project, TIGR is developing novel protocols and high-throughput pipelines for the rapid sequencing of a large number of influenza virus genomes. In the first phase of the project, the viral samples will come from the Wadsworth Center of the New York State Department of Health.

TIGR Assistant Investigator Elodie Ghedin is leading the laboratory component of the influenza sequencing project; Steven Salzberg, TIGR’s senior director of bioinformatics, is leading the computational component. The primary investigator of the microbial sequencing contract with NIAID is TIGR President Claire M. Fraser.

In addition to NIAID and TIGR, the scientific centers involved in the influenza sequencing project include: the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), part of the NIH National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, MD; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in Atlanta, GA; the St. Jude Childrens’ Research Hospital in Memphis, TN; the Wadsworth Center of the New York State Department of Health; and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, in Washington, D.C.

”The influenza sequencing project will create an unprecedented resource to study evolution of the flu virus in real time,” says TIGR’s Salzberg. ”For the first time, we will be able to see how the virus changes as it moves through the population, and especially to see how often the different strains exchange segments of DNA — an event that may cause new pandemic strains.”

For more information about the influenza genome sequencing project, see the NIAID press release at: http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/nov2004/niaid-15.htm

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