$18 million in funding for center for deadly diseases

A National Institutes of Health body has set aside funding worth $18 million to establish a computer database designed to identify and exploit the weak spots in a number of deadly microorganisms.

The National Microbial Pathogen Data Resource Center will help scientists to accelerate their research into the biology and evolution of deadly microorganisms and develop methods for their control.

The new center will provide infectious disease researchers with a single Web-based entry point to all relevant organism-related data necessary for their advanced research. The genomes (genetic maps) of hundreds and eventually thousands of microorganisms will be available for integrated analysis.

Overseeing the effort will be the Computation Institute, a joint effort between the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, and the Fellowship for Interpretation of Genomes, a non-profit organization specializing in bioinformatics tool development and comparative genomics research.

"The center will directly support the national effort to develop new vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases," said Computation Institute director, Rick Stevens, who will co-direct the center.

Among the scientists who will directly benefit from the data center will be the eight new Regional Centers of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases that were funded last September by the NIAID of the National Institutes of Health.