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UGA partners with U of Pennsylvania for bio-defense and infectious disease research project

The University of Georgia signed a five-year $3.0 million subcontract Wednesday to develop a database that will contain comprehensive information about some pathogens on a bio-defense priority list established by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

The subcontract teams UGA with the University of Pennsylvania to develop a "virtual database" that serves as a single access point to genomic and related information about parasites in the phylum Apicomplexa, which includes organisms that cause malaria and toxoplasmosis.

NIAID, part of the National Institutes of Health, awarded a total of eight contracts in 2004 to establish national Bioinformatics Resource Centers, including the Penn/UGA award.

Jessica Kissinger, assistant professor of genetics and member of UGA's Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, is the principal investigator for UGA; co-principal investigators are Eileen Kraemer, associate professor of computer science, and John A. Miller, professor of computer science.

NIH has funded many genome sequence projects over the past decade, including more than 50 organisms that either are considered to be biothreats or are related to emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases. Once a genome is sequenced, a database project must be developed to provide access to the data and provide tools to analyze it.

"You have to be able to read the sequenced genome, use it, learn it and study it," Kissinger said. "Few of the genome projects had a database project built into the original sequence proposal."

Tools already have been developed to facilitate database construction for single organisms. However, as more genomes are sequenced, additional information can be gathered by comparing one genome to another.

Currently, existing apicomplexan databases do not provide access to information about multiple organisms, making comparisons difficult. Simultaneous access to inform
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Contact: Kim Carlyle
kcarlyle@uga.edu
706-583-0913
University of Georgia
23-Dec-2004


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