UW Research Molecular Biologist Chris Frazar (right) explains the laboratory work performed for the UW Pathogen Genomics Center of Excellence to Dr. Daniel Jernigan, director of the CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (left); and Dr. David Fitter, director of the CDC's Divsion of Global Migration and Quanantine (center).
Officials from the CDC visited Seattle August 25, touring the State Department of Health Laboratory in Shoreline, followed by a BBI-hosted briefing on the UW campus of the Pathogen Genomics Center of Excellence (PGCoE), one of five in the nation funded by the CDC to better prevent, control, and respond to microbial threats to public health.
The CDC delegation was led by Director Dr. Mandy Cohen who, with State Health Secretary Dr. Umair A. Shah, discussed vaccine uptake at the state lab, as well as a new COVID-19 booster expected sometime this fall.
That event preceded the UW visit which included Dr. Daniel Jernigan, director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID). The center seeks to protect people in the U.S. and globally from infections spread between people and animals, such as Zika. Other CDC staff included Dr. David Fitter, director of the Division of Global, Migration and Quarantine; and Peggy Honein, director, Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections. Several State DOH officials also participated in the briefing.
In addition, staff members of the state’s congressional leaders attended, including those from the offices of U.S. Senator Patty Murray and Representatives Adam Smith, Suzan DelBene, Kim Schrier.
BBI’s Drs. Lea Startita and Trevor Bedford presented on their research regarding COVID-19 and other viruses.
“This was a rare opportunity to meet, present our work, and engage in informal discussions with CDC leadership and congressional staff,” said Starita, associate professor in the UW Department of Genome Sciences and co-director of the Brotman Baty Advanced Technology Lab.
The PGCoE, launched in 2022, is a five-year initiative to “foster and improve innovation and technical capacity in pathogen genomics, molecular epidemiology, and bioinformatics to better prevent, control. and respond to microbial threats of public health importance,” according to the CDC.
In addition to Washington, other states hosting the centers for excellent are: Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Virginia. Each state’s center includes a partnership with an academic research institution.
Together, the centers comprise a network to analyze needs and opportunities for genomics in public health systems, implement genomics technologies and their applications for public health, and prepare for and respond to infectious disease outbreaks.