Congressman Rick Boucher (D-VA 9th District) joined senior Virginia Tech officials to announce the award of approximately $27 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech.

The five-year, $27,670,448 contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the NIH, is the largest, one-time federal award in the history of Virginia Tech.

The funding will be used by the CyberInfrastructure Group (CIG) to support infectious disease research across the globe, namely to integrate vital information on pathogens, provide key resources and tools to scientists, and help researchers to analyze genomic, proteomic and other data arising from infectious disease research.

"Virginia Tech is a leader in bioinformatics related to infectious diseases, and the work the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute performs is extremely valuable not only for Virginia Tech but for the nation,” said Boucher. “I am extremely pleased that the National Institutes of Health have recognized the excellence of Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, and I would like to congratulate the Institute on its outstanding work that merited this federal award.”

"This is not the first time the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute has been recognized by the federal government,” added Boucher. ‘Since its inception, the institute has received more than $90 million in federal funding, more than $15 million of which was obtained through federal appropriations approved by Congress at my request.”

“The new award from the NIH will allow us to continue our work to support infectious disease research and the development of vaccine, diagnostic or therapeutic targets for countermeasures,” said Bruno Sobral, professor and director of the CyberInfrastructure Group and principal investigator of the project. “Over the past five years, VBI’s CIG has led its own Bioinformatics Resource Center (BRC), PATRIC, and worked with other leading BRCs across the country to put in place informatics-based capabilities deployed as large-scale information systems. As we move ahead, we will be working hand-in-hand with a wide range of partners, including medical schools and public health institutions interested in translating the very latest scientific discoveries and innovation into practical health benefits for society at large.”

The overall NIAID program will comprise four new Bioinformatics Resource Centers or BRCs and a new gateway portal for the entire project. Each BRC will focus on one of the following pathogen types: bacterial species; viral families; protozoan species; and invertebrate vectors of human pathogens. CIG will develop, implement, and manage the BRC for selected NIAID category A-C priority bacterial species* and it will also develop the new gateway portal for the entire BRC program, which will be called the Pathogen Portal.

“PATRIC 2.0 will position CIG to handle the designated bacterial data in the context of infectious diseases – the change in scale of data acquisition and analysis is astonishing and we are poised to learn a lot,” said Sobral.

A full list of the selected NIAID category A-C priority pathogens, which includes the selected NIAID category A-C priority bacterial pathogens, may be found online.

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