Bioinformatics Algorithms for Infectious Diseases


Infectious diseases are a leading cause of productivity loss and are responsible for roughly a third of annual deaths worldwide; sepsis and mortality caused by infectious diseases are also on the rise in the developed world. Antimicrobial resistance is increasing rapidly and newly emerging diseases are causing considerable concern: a new global pandemic could have a significant economic impact.With the advent of microbial whole-genome sequencing, there has been some renewed optimism that genomic knowledge will speed the development of new antimicrobials, vaccines and diagnostics. Some success stories have been reported to date, however these have been extensive/costly endeavors involving significant laboratory requirements. This is largely due to the fact that the existing computational screens for identifying potential drug targets and vaccine components are not accurate enough.Our recently funded CTEF project on combating infectious diseases aims to improve the effectiveness of genomic approaches for anti infective drug discovery through a technology driven, interdisciplinary methodology. The project aims to develop more accurate and faster bioinformatics algorithms and tools for identifying anti-infective drug targets, candidate drugs and potential vaccines. Our interdisciplinary team, composed of PIs Cenk Sahinalp and Fiona Brinkman and 8 other investigators, will capitalize on SFU's unique strengths in computational, physical, chemical and biological sciences to discover potential new therapeutic targets and test them first in silico and then in the laboratory. Our program will provide an environment for trainees from the basic and applied sciences to learn career skills relevant to performing interesting interdisciplinary, team-based, internationally competitive research. With the ability to analyze many infectious disease-causing microbes in parallel, the computational methods we will develop could potentially have a wide impact on efforts to control multiple infectious diseases.This application for IRMACS membership is for supporting the tightly interdisciplinary nature of the project, requesting facilities for research meetings. The specific needs we have include larger meeting rooms that can accommodate all investigators (~10 per year) and smaller rooms for sub-project meetings involving at most 5 investigators (~25 per year). We also may need to use the presentation facility for talks by invited speakers.