Why The CDC Wants To Modernize Its Pathogen, Sequencing Informatics

Anthony Brino | Government Health IT | April 19, 2013

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is requesting $40 million in its fiscal year 2014 budget to build advanced molecular detection and informatics systems for tracking infectious disease outbreaks.

The CDC says it currently lacks the molecular sequencing tools and bioinformatics capacity to keep up with emerging threats like the antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains plaguing U.S. hospitals and the H7N9 influenza that recently evolved in China.

“CDC needs next generation diagnostics to find and stop killer microbes before they spread,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, in a briefing on the proposal. “It used to take weeks to months to sequence a genome of a bacteria or virus.” Today’s technology — cousins of the same high-throughput sequencing tools bringing down the cost of humane genome analysis — “can do that in just a few hours,” he said, helping researchers identify pathogens and determine the scope of their resistance.