Roche and Google.org agreed to work together to demonstrate the feasibility of developing a multidisciplinary surveillance, research, and response system. The goal is for this system to enhance the ability to predict and prevent emerging infectious diseases in East Africa.
Roche donated a Genome Sequencer FLX system, which will become the backbone of this project. The project will focus primarily on arboviruses and will initially tackle rift valley fever (RVF), which is caused by an arbovirus that is spread by mosquito vectors.
The initiative will survey human, livestock, wildlife, and vector populations to monitor the circulation, transmission, and maintenance of arboviruses within them, with a focus on RVF virus. It will employ genomics and knowledge-management systems to advance understanding of the dynamics and diversity of disease-causing agents, their vectors, and hosts. All this information will finally be linked to existing risk data and decision-support tools with the aim of providing early warning of disease outbreaks and enabling rapid responses to control them.
The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), as well as Kenya’s national organizations for health, livestock, and wildlife will also participate in the project. The Roche Genome Sequencer platform will be established within the Nairobi laboratories of ILRI and a regional joint venture called Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa (BecA). The ILRI-BecA hub provides a biosciences research and bioinformatics platform linked to a network of laboratories distributed throughout Eastern and Central Africa.