UP hosts PH-UK international workshop on disease control and prevention

The International Workshop on Genomic Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases (GEID Philippines 2017) organized by the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) of UP in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) opened yesterday, 4 June 2017, at the Institute of Biology in UP Diliman.

The five-day event gives scientists a venue for sharing with colleagues their research projects and some best practices in the understanding of the epidemiology of infectious diseases, as well as learning about advanced tools that can aid in the detection, prevention and control of diseases.

Resource speakers from UP, the Philippine Department of Health, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of Cambridge and University of St. Andrews led the lectures and discussions yesterday on the role of genomics to disease prevention and control particularly in the Philippines.

Prof. Martin Hibberd of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine provides insight into infectious diseases in the era of genomics (Photo: Ibsky Romero)

Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy of the Department of Health’s Disease Prevention and Control Bureau introduces the participants to the dynamics of prevention and control of infectious diseases in the Philippines (Photo: Ibsky Romero)

Infectious diseases such as HIV-AIDS, malaria, pneumonia and tuberculosis, account for 25 percent of global mortality and more than half of all deaths in children under the age of five years. The genetic epidemiology of these diseases can be complex, especially as they may involve several genomes, including the host, pathogen (or pathogens) and a vector. There is also a need to look beyond the genome to consider other ‘omes, such as the transcriptome, in a more systems biology framework.

High throughput genotyping and sequencing technologies are giving insights into these genomes, metabolomes, transcriptomes and proteomes, thereby revolutionizing genetic epidemiological studies and biomedical research.

But to take full advantage of new ‘omic technologies, one must have the ability to analyze large amounts of data using methods from bioinformatics, population genetics and statistics.

This is why for the succeeding days of the workshop, participants will be trained in genomic analyses with hands-on exercises at the Computational Science Research Center. They will learn how to process sequencing data to construct genomes, identify genomic variants and apply downstream methods such as phylogenetics.

GEID Philippines 2017 was designed to promote collaboration among PhD and MSc graduates or students that will enhance the use of tools in bioinformatics, population genetics and statistics in infectious diseases.

It is made possible with support from the British Council’s Newton Fund Researcher Links Programme.

PGC is a multidisciplinary institution that combines basic and applied research for the development of health diagnostics, therapeutics, DNA forensics and preventive products, and improved crop varieties. It is under the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs.