Minnesota earns National Public Health Award

(ABC 6 News) – Minnesota is one of five states to be named a Pathogen Genomics Center of Excellence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), earning an $18 million award to enhance Minnesota’s ability to prevent, control, and respond to microbial public health threats.

The five-year award will go to the Minnesota Department of Health, the University of Minnesota, and the Mayo Clinic to develop cutting-edge laboratory technology and other innovative scientific methods.

Through the award, the partnership aims to help Minnesota detect more pathogens, and detect them sooner, by developing new sequencing tools, improved workflows, and other technologies.

The five states together will make up CDC’s National Pathogen Genomics Centers of Excellence network. The objective of the network is to foster and improve innovations and technical capacity in pathogen genomics, molecular epidemiology, and bioinformatics. The network is also intended to enable better public health system response through resilience, flexibility and the latest in laboratory technology.

In addition, a key goal of the network is to train new people and build capacity for the workforce, she said.

According to CDC, a core criterion of the awards and a core principle of the network is partnership between academia and public health. MDH partnered with several schools or centers at the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology to propose a breadth of projects that will explore novel ways to detect and respond to future infectious disease threats and emergencies. These could include such things as developing new laboratory tools to identify novel viruses, antibiotic-resistant bacteria or fungus or using novel approaches such as wastewater, animal, or community-based testing to expand public health surveillance to under-represented populations.

The other states sharing in the $90 million program include Georgia, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Washington.

More information on the Pathogen Genomics Centers of Excellence awards and network can be found in CDC’s news release.