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Data and Technology

Bioinformatics Tools to Enable Federated, Real Time Genomic Epidemiology Data Sharing and Analysis in a One Health Framework

  • Project Leaders: William Hsiao, Gary van Domselaar
  • Institutions: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Budget: $1197563
  • Program/Competition: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Competitions
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome Canada
  • Fiscal Year: 2018
  • Status: Closed

Infectious diseases such as influenza, Ebola, Listeriosis and Salmonellosis, as well as other pathogens, can devastate both animal and human lives, damage economies and paralyze trade. The One Health approach recognizes that the health of humans, animals and the environment are closely intertwined, requiring a collective approach to effectively detect, respond to and prevent outbreaks.

Genomics has transformed the detection and characterization of pathogens, expediting the development of diagnostic tests and vaccines and expanding our knowledge of pathogens. Utilizing genomics data for real-time surveillance among partners, though, is difficult, because of inconsistent contextual information associated with genomic samples, lack of a trusted and secure data-sharing platform, and inadequate tools for localized and collaborative genomic analyses.

Drs. William Hsiao of UBC and BC Centre for Disease Control Public Health Laboratory, and Gary Van Domselaar of the Public Health Agency of Canada are creating new data-sharing platforms and data-processing tools to enable real-time, multijurisdictional data sharing, allowing researchers – and their software systems – across sectors to communicate information faster, more accurately and more securely. The tools will be tested by three Canadian collaborating centers and with international partners to ensure their fitness and usability.

The software tools developed in this collaboration aim to transform how infectious disease data is shared and analyzed, leading to better monitoring of the emergence and spread of pathogens in wildlife, food and food animals, and the environment, which will reduce disease burden, prevent agri-food trade embargoes and minimize costly food product recalls. It will improve communication between public health and agricultural institutions, and enhance collaboration at the provincial, national and international levels. Ultimately, this project should improve the health and well-being of Canadians.