Blacksburg, June 5, 2002 - Virginia Tech President Dr. Charles Steger and VBI Director Bruno Sobral today announced a $4 million federal contract to Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech for the creation of PathPort, a global pathogen portal. This computer architecture, or portal, collects and collates genetic information about all known pathogens and their close relatives. PathPort will connect pathogen databases around the world, thus aiding in rapid detection, identification, and forensic attribution of high-priority pathogens. These threats may be infectious diseases, or have the potential for use as biological weapons. 

Earlier this year, Dr. Sobral testified before the Senate about the need for rapid detection and identification of infectious diseases and biological weapons. “With this comprehensive pathogen information system, we will be able to draw on already available resources to completely characterize known pathogens and their near relatives. This easily accessible system will serve as a fundamental knowledge and decision-making tool,” he said.

VBI, a shared resource for the Commonwealth of Virginia, is collaborating with the Department of Defense to develop this technology that will strengthen the nation’s security against pathogens. "With this portal, VBI will advance not only the nation’s security efforts, but also long-term biomedical efforts to cure infectious disease. After the unprecedented events of September 11 and later," said Virginia Tech President Dr. Charles Steger, "a global effort was immediately needed, and clearly Virginia Tech was highly prepared to provide the technology to quickly address these challenges."

"In times such as these," said Dr. Sobral, "we are acutely cognizant of living in a society defined by, and dependent on, science and technology."

PathPort is being created with support from the Department of Defense U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command Unit. Dr. Sobral’s Congressional testimony is available from VBI Press Releases.

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Published by Public Relations, June 04, 2002