U-M among four Michigan universities to receive $18.5 million in federal funding to expand sequencing for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases

Author | Kelly Malcom

Four Michigan universities will receive $18.5 million in federal funds over the next two years to collect and analyze genomic data to address emerging infectious disease threats and enhance the state’s ability to respond to those threats, announced the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) today.

University of Michigan, Michigan Tech University, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University will use the funding to increase sequencing capacity in the state starting with SARS-CoV-2 and then other infectious disease threats with the potential for broad community spread. Funding for the Michigan Sequencing Academic Partnership for Public Health Innovation and Response (MI-SAPPHIRE) is through a CDC Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity grant MDHHS received. MI-SAPPHIRE activities will include sequence generation and analysis, such as sample collection and sequencing; data processing, storage and sharing; and data interpretation and analytics.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance and need for genomic sequencing, surveillance and epidemiology capacity both globally and right here in Michigan,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “The MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories has rapidly expanded its efforts to identify COVID-19 variants since the start of the pandemic to support public health actions. MI-SAPPHIRE will allow our state to expand sequencing and analysis capacity and the number of pathogens that undergo routine sequencing, and ensure we are sampling diverse geographic areas across the state.”

MDHHS has been a leader in national sequencing and genomic epidemiology as the national center for tuberculosis sequencing, PulseNet foodborne pathogen regional center, and SARS-CoV-2. The state generates over 25,000 genomes per year for bacterial and viral organisms. Partnerships with the four universities will allow for the scalability of capacity and response for SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens.

The MDHHS BOL has sequenced 23,000 COVID-19 samples since March 2020. The University of Michigan lab has also conducted sequencing throughout the pandemic to provide information about COVID-19 variants circulating in the state.

Sequencing projects at U-M will be led by Dr. Adam Lauring of the U-M Medical School Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Dr. Emily Martin of the School of Public Health, Dr. Evan Snitkin of the U-M Medical School Department of Microbiology & Immunology, and Dr. Betsy Foxman of the School of Public Health.

Data generated or activities funded must support public health action, surveillance activities, infrastructure development or pandemic response efforts. Data or projects generated solely for research purposes and not directly actionable by state epidemiologists are not allowable with federal grant funds.

For more information on genetic sequencing, visit What is Genomic Surveillance?  CDC.

Media Contact Public Relations

Department of Communication at Michigan Medicine

[email protected]

734-764-2220

Featured News & Stories surgeons
Health Lab
Building a sustainable kidney transplant program in Rwanda
A Michigan Medicine surgeon builds a sustainable kidney transplant program in Rwanda.
Health Lab Podcast in brackets with a background with a dark blue translucent layers over cells
Health Lab Podcast
Presenting: The Fundamentals
Today on Health Lab, we are sharing an episode of The Fundamentals, another podcast from the Michigan Medicine Podcast Network that just launched its second season earlier this month. On this episode of The Fundamentals: "Cannabis and psychedelics: stigmatized substances or powerful therapeutics?" Dr. Kevin Boehnke talks about cannabis, psychedelics, and the increasing body of evidence for their legitimization as therapeutics.
weight scale black white in exam room close up
Health Lab
Adding obesity experts to primary care clinics improves patients’ weight loss outcomes
A weight navigation program for primary care patients with obesity led to more use of proven weight management strategies and more weight loss
vials in blue and yellow with syringe
Health Lab
Young people are increasingly using Wegovy and Ozempic
A national study from Michigan Medicine shows that the use of these weight loss drugs is increasing rapidly in adolescents and young adults 12-25 years, especially females.
xray on tablet held by clinician in white coat and stethoscope
Health Lab
These factors are linked to a higher risk of pneumonia after heart surgery
Researchers uncovered nine elements that have significant effects on a whether a patient may develop pneumonia, with nearly 20% of patients moving into a higher risk category based on what occurred during or following the surgery.
provider sitting writing something down with person in khakis and blue shirt unbuttoned with white shirt under
Health Lab
ER screening tool helps identify youth at risk of experiencing firearm violence
A study published by researchers at the University of Michigan reveals that implementing this screening tool can help identify and support youth with firearm violence history.