Facilitated by the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, Rockefeller Foundation has agreed to provide funding to an Indian consortium consisting of research institutions from Hyderabad, Pune, Bengaluru, and Delhi. Led by CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB) in Hyderabad, the consortium will bring together key partners to upscale genome surveillance across India by ramping up genome sequencing efforts, bioinformatics, and data sharing. It will complement the efforts of the Indian SARS-COV-2 Genome Sequencing Consortium (INSACOG).
The enhanced genome surveillance will help India track the emergence and transmission of new SARS-CoV-2 variants and correlate them with epidemiological dynamics and clinical outcomes of patients. This will, in turn, help health policymakers to draw inferences from clinical outcomes and implement appropriate public health and medical countermeasures. The information generated through genome surveillance will feed into research on the improvement of vaccines, diagnostics, and developing therapeutics.
With the phenomenon of vaccine breakthrough (when vaccinated people get infected) now recognized as a key aspect of COVID-19 research efforts, the research consortium will also use the Rockefeller funding to better understand the genomic characteristics of the virus that allow it to escape vaccine-mediated immunity.
The surveillance system created through this initiative will also be useful in the timely tracking of future infectious disease outbreaks and to better understand and mitigate anti-microbial infections in the country.
Along with CSIR-CCMB Hyderabad, the research consortium consists of other prominent research institutions such as Pune Knowledge Cluster, National Centre of Biological Sciences (NCBS), and DBT-Institute for Stem Cell Science and Regenerative Medicine (DBT-InStem) in Bengaluru, and CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) in Delhi.