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Global Health Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Supporting Expansion of Pathogen Genome Databases
February 17, 2009, Volume 55, No. 22

The Global Health Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a $1.7 million grant to two Penn professors—Dr. David S. Roos, E. Otis Kendall Professor of Biology and Dr. Christian J. Stoeckert, research professor of genetics, in collaboration with Dr. Jessica Kissinger, University of Georgia, and Dr. Peter Myler, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute.

This two-year award supports the application of bioinformatics resources to kinetoplastid parasites, including the organisms responsible for leishmaniasis (kala-azar), African sleeping sickness, and Chagas disease. Over the past decade, Dr. Roos, the principal investigator, Dr. Stoeckert, Dr. Kissinger and colleagues have been responsible for developing the Eukaryotic Pathogen Genome Database (http://EuPathDB.org), one of eight national Bioinformatics Resource Centers supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. EuPathDB currently provides bioinformatics support for investigators working on biodefense and emerging pathogens, including Toxoplasma parasites that are also important in congenital disease and immunosuppressed patients, and the Plasmodium parasites responsible for malaria.

The Gates award leverages infrastructure developed in the context of the EuPathDB project, and promotes partnership with the GeneDB effort at the Sanger Institute (UK) for the curation of parasite genomes funded by the Wellcome Trust, bringing the tools of computational genomics to bear against pathogens of global importance. This project is an example of the kind of integrative computational biology made possible by the Penn Center for Bioinformatics and the Penn Genome Frontiers Institute.


Almanac - February 17, 2009, Volume 55, No. 22