Michigan educational institutions are on the forefront of COVID-19 and infectious disease research, and now, they have more funding to continue their work. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has announced that four major Michigan universities will be getting $18.5 million in federal funding to expand sequencing for COVID-19 and additional infectious diseases. The funds will be spaced out over the next two years.
The funding, according to a release from the MDHHS, will go to Michigan Tech University, Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State University .
The $18.5 million will be utilized to “collect and analyze genomic data to address emerging infectious disease threats and enhance the state’s ability to respond to those threats,” according to the release.
The funds are thanks to the MDHHS getting a CDC Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity funding grant for the Michigan Sequencing Academic Partnership for Public Health Innovation and Response (MI-SAPPHIRE).
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance and need for genomic sequencing, surveillance and epidemiology capacity both globally and right here in Michigan,” Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director, said in a press release. “The MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories has rapidly expanded its efforts to identify COVID-19 variants since the start of the pandemic to support public health actions.”
She added, “MI-SAPPHIRE will allow our state to expand sequencing and analysis capacity and the number of pathogens that undergo routine sequencing, and ensure we are sampling diverse geographic areas across the state.”
According to the MDHHS, since the start of the pandemic in March 2022, their lab has sequenced 23,000 COVID-19 samples.
“MDHHS has been a leader in national sequencing and genomic epidemiology as the national center for tuberculosis sequencing, PulseNet foodborne pathogen regional center, and SARS-CoV-2,” the MDHHS’ statement reads. :The state generates over 25,000 genomes per year for bacterial and viral organisms. Partnerships with the four universities will allow for the scalability of capacity and response for SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens.”