BLACKSBURG, Va., May 21, 2004 – The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute’s (VBI) participation in the Middle Atlantic Regional Center of Excellence (MARCE) for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases has been highlighted in two national media outlets, U.S. Medicine and BioInform.

In September, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the creation of eight centers to investigate topics crucial to biodefense and infectious disease control as part of the department’s strategic plan for biodefense research. MARCE, which is a 15-university collaboration led by the University of Maryland, is included as one of the eight centers with VBI serving as the genomics and bioinformatics core.

Several diseases including anthrax, hemorrhagic fever, tularemia, and smallpox, as well as public health response research including needle-free immunization programs, will be investigated by this new center. Specifically, VBI will provide high-performance laboratory infrastructure including genomic and gene expression sample analysis. Additionally, VBI will provide supercomputing capabilities and informatics software platforms to connect the numerous collaborators. The MARCE team will leverage VBI’s PathPort, short for Pathogen Portal, a Department of Defense-funded informatics platform designed to enable data gathering, storage, analysis and integration.

U.S. MEDICINE featured an extensive article in its October 1, 2003 issue highlighting the eight new Regional Centers of Excellence or Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research. “HHS Biodefense Plan Raises Research Bar” includes information on VBI’s involvement with MARCE. U.S. MEDICINE, “The Voice of Federal Medicine,” is the newspaper of U.S. MEDICINE, Inc., an independent news organization dedicated to the dissemination of objective information about medical activities and policies in the federal government. The newspaper has been published continuously since 1964 and now maintains a global readership of approximately 43,000 federal health professionals.

BioInform published an article in its September 15, 2003 newsletter titled “VBI to Serve as Bioinformatics Core for Mid-Atlantic Biodefense RCE,” which focused solely on VBI and its involvement in the biodefense research collaboration. BioInform is a weekly application-focus newsletter delivering in-depth news and analysis on the technologies, companies, research institutions, and people involved in bioinformatics, systems biology, research computing, biostatistics, computational biology, drug discovery and allied disciplines.

The Middle Atlantic RCE includes Virginia Tech, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Virginia, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the University of Pittsburgh, George Washington University, Georgetown University, West Virginia University, Drexel University, the University of Vermont, the University of Missouri, Kansas City, the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

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Published by Public Relations, May 20, 2004