Advances in genomic technologies provide infectious disease researchers an unprecedented capability to study the viruses that cause disease and their interactions with hosts. However, significant gaps remain in what we know. For instance, the natural prevalence, evolution, and diversity of emerging viruses like Lassa and Powassan, as well as their transmission along and between homans and zoonotic hosts, are not well characterized. This threatens our ability to prepare for and even identify human cases when they occur. For highly fatal viruses like Lassa and Ebola, little is known about the host responses and host-pathogen interactions that lead to death or survival. And for most viral threats, our ability to respond is hampered by a lack of systematic, high-throughput methods that evaluate and inform the development of therapeutics and vaccines.
The GCID has led many technical, analytical, and translational advances that have revolutionized the application of genomics to viral human disease. The experience, resources, and innovative capacity of this group will all be necessary to fully address the significant gaps that remain in our understanding and ability to respond to the ongoing threat posed by viral diseases. Through genomic methods and analyses, we are working to accelerate the design of policies, diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines by pursuing the following three aims:
The genomic detection and epidemiology of emerging viral threats in humans and vectors.
Studying tissue-specific and single-cell characterizations of host response and viral dynamics during viral hemorrhagic fever infection.
Systematically discovering viral antigens using thousands of rationally designed oligonucleotides.
The impact of these projects will be transformative by:
providing timely genomic resources and insights into viral circulation and disease pathology,
developing new analytic and interpretive frameworks for epidemiological insights to influence public health practice, and
creating public data sets to enable the design of new interventions for viral disease.