Academia and governmental authorities came together to explore the possibilities for collaboration on infectious disease control

Published: 2014-12-02


As a part of SciLifeLab’s ambition to support and collaborate with governmental authorities SciLifeLab has, together with the National Veterinary Institute and the National Food Agency, organized a workshop on subtyping of pathogenic microorganisms using whole-genome sequencing. The aim of the workshop was to explore the requirements and possibilities to create a national network for microbial whole-genome sequencing.

Today, several authorities, hospitals and universities perform subtyping of pathogenic microorganisms. The methods have steadily evolved which has hampered the willingness to investigate enough to create a fully useable tool. The fast development of whole-genome sequencing and bioinformatics has just recently opened the possibility to use this technique in outbreak investigations.

– We wished to bring together Swedish academia and governmental authorities with an interest in whole-genome sequencing in the perspective of infectious disease outbreaks. We need to learn and understand each other’s challenges, needs and possibilities, said Hans Lindmark at the National Food Agency, co-organizer and moderator of the event.

The workshop was attended by speakers and participants from several universities and authorities such as the National Food Agency, Public Health Agency of Sweden, National Veterinary Institute, Uppsala university Hospital, Linköping University, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, Swedish Defence Research Agency and more.

– The participants were active during the workshop and exchanged experiences. I think that this was very valuable since they spanned a wide range of expertise and represented organizations from different parts of the country. It was rewarding that, for example, the Swedish National Laboratory of Forensic Science were represented at the workshop. Infectious disease control and forensics has a lot in common, not least when it comes to result evaluation, said Rickard Knutsson at the National Veterinary Institute, co-organizer and moderator of the event.

During the day the participants discussed challenges, case studies, technical problems and solutions in whole-genome sequencing of microorganisms, as well as current and future perspectives on tracing sources of infection using sequencing.

The workshop schedule is available as a downloadable pdf.