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NIH Renews Funding for VectorBase Program at Notre Dame

Nina Welding • DATE: December 9, 2014

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), an arm of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has renewed funding for VectorBase, a bioinformatics resource center based at the University of Notre Dame since 2004 that manages genomic information on arthropods and other invertebrates that transmit human pathogens.

The new $2.3 million contract will extend the project through 2015. Should the government choose to exercise the additional terms (options), the project will extend through 2019, at a total cost of $14.7 million.

VectorBase is a scientific portal that makes accessible the genomes and related information on vectors — insects, ticks, flies and other invertebrates known to transmit diseases to humans. The site is primarily a resource that provides valuable and rapid assistance to scientists who work on these vectors. In this new five-year cycle, the resource will expand to include more population biology data including insecticide resistance and vector surveillance data. The site also features social media outreach and an extensive collection of images of vectors that can be accessed by journalists, publishers and interested members of the general public.

The precursor of VectorBase began in 2002 on the heels of the sequencing of the genome of Anopheles gambiae, the major mosquito that transmits malaria in Africa. Frank Collins, George and Winifred Clark Professor of Biological Sciences at Notre Dame, was a key figure in that sequencing effort that led to the initial award. Under the leadership of Collins and Scott Emrich of Notre Dame’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering and Daniel Lawson of the European Bioinformatics Institute, VectorBase now includes 35 genomes of vectors that transmit diseases including malaria, dengue fever, Lyme disease and leishmaniasis.

VectorBase is an international consortium and multiple groups contribute staff to the project, including the European Bioinformatics Institute and Imperial College of London.

VectorBase is available at www.vectorbase.org.