Illumina, a San Diego-based biotech firm, has announced an in-kind commitment of $60 million in support of a global pathogen sequencing initiative.
The initiative builds on the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention's Africa Pathogen Genomics Initiative, a four-year partnership announced in October that is supported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft, Oxford Nanopore Technologies, and Illumina. Over the next five years, Illumina will donate next-generation sequencing (NGS) platforms, reagents, and training resources to the initiative, with an initial focus on equipping national public health systems in South Asia with better tools for use in creating a global early-warning system for pathogens.
"Rapidly identifying outbreaks and tracking their spread and evolution will save lives around the world and [are] essential to strengthening healthcare systems," said Illumina CEO Francis deSouza. "Genomics has the power to revolutionize the way public health entities manage biological threats, and this global initiative will help make NGS technology and expertise accessible in areas of need."
"Expanding access to pathogen sequencing will accelerate efforts to detect new epidemics before they spread widely and to monitor their transmission in real time for more targeted and precise response. Pathogen sequencing will also contribute to research and development efforts for new vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments for current and emerging infectious diseases," said Trevor Mundel, president of global health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "It's critical to empower scientists in South Asia, like we're doing in Africa, with the tools they need to stay one step ahead of pathogens."