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Dr. Keim is a world expert in pathogens such as plague and anthrax. He worked with the FBI to crack the "anthrax letters" case in the wake of 9/11. At NAU, he is a Regents Professor of Biology, holds an endowed chair in Microbiology, and is Executive Director of the Pathogen and Microbiome Institute (PMI). He is a Distinguished Professor at TGen, Co-Director of TGen North, and will serve as Director the ACGU.
"Genome sequences are ideal for distributed scientific research efforts and the Arizona Union will rely heavily on national and global studies to track the disease. Nevertheless, it is critical that regional experts engage in this process to maximize the benefits for Arizona citizens," said Dr. Keim.
Dr. Worobey is the head of University of Arizona's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and is world-renowned for his work on viral pandemics. Using genomic epidemiology, he has definitively tracked the origins and worldwide spread of HIV, and also determined why the 1918 "Spanish influenza" pandemic killed millions of young adults.
"Molecular analysis of viruses provides crucial clues about how pandemics begin and how to fight them," said Dr. Worobey. "We will be capitalizing upon Arizona's wealth of talent and infrastructure in this endeavor."
The Arizona COVID-19 Genomics Union is similar to other groups across the globe, working to gain a foothold on this new coronavirus. Rapid sharing of data and analysis has been, and continues to be, critical to scientific, medical and public health understanding of the pandemic. Ironically, the first U.S. epicenter of COVID-19, Seattle, is also home for NextStrain, the internet home for genome tracking of this and other pathogens.
The consortium of Arizona scientists hope that their regional sequencing will give Arizona healthcare providers and public policy makers an edge in responding to this pandemic.
Like NextStrain, ACGU will make its findings public; openly available to epidemiologists and virologists worldwide. Source:
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