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Using genomic epidemiology in the fight against COVID-19

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As the world deals with the current SARS CoV-2 pandemic, genomic epidemiology has become a proven tool in the fight against COVID-19. As the virus passes from person to person, mutations can occur that can be monitored and traced to identify chains of infection. Working as part of the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK), Dr Robson and his team work with NHS sites across the South and Lighthouse Labs throughout the UK to help with infection control processes and to provide a UK-wide database of viral genomes. The UK leads this field by a wide margin, and these data are used to track and trace novel variants of concern.

Working closely with PHE, and with reporting to government organisations such as the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), this project has developed rapidly to assist in our understanding of the virus as we attempt to bring it under control and plot a course to a normal way of life.

Bios: Dr Samuel Robson is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Portsmouth, where he is the Faculty Bioinformatics Lead, and Bioinformatics Lead at the Centre for Enzyme Innovation (CEI). He has developed a Bioinformatics-specific compute cluster here at the University where he has developed analysis pipelines for whole genome sequencing, genome/transcriptome assembly, RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, CLIP-seq, BS-seq, amplicon sequencing, and other typical sequencing data types used by researchers throughout the University.

Watch Research Futures: Sequencing and tracking of phylogeny in COVID-19 on YouTube.

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