Viral diseases are a major public health burden across the world. In Latin America, Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue and Oropouche are just some of the viral diseases that cause numerous deaths and comorbidities every year. Apart from health risks, emerging viral infections and outbreaks also pose an economic and social burden. For example, the recent emergence of Zika virus in the Pacific Islands and Latin America and its association with microcephaly has caused economic and societal problems.
Advances in research technologies are enabling access to improved detection, surveillance and management of viral diseases. In recent years, next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies have played an important role in the identification and classification of viruses, in the detection of drug resistance mutations and in the treatment and surveillance of viral diseases. Early identification of a virus and rapid analysis of its genome will aid towards better treatment and help in controlling the disease spread. Along with the rapid advances in the sequencing technologies, it is necessary to develop data management methods, computational analysis tools and human expertise to cope with the sequence deluge. The number of researchers able to interpret viral high throughput sequence data is currently limited.
The Viral Genomics and Bioinformatics course will provide participants with a working knowledge of viral genome sequence analysis and interpretation of genomics data generated from high-throughput sequencing. Topics will include the use of the command line to perform analysis of viral NGS data, quality control of sequences, reference and de-novo assemblies, pathogen detection from metagenomics data and building phylogenetic trees. Participants, along with gaining bioinformatics knowledge, will have an opportunity to establish links and networks and develop future collaborative projects.
The course is free to attend and open to applicants based in Latin America and the Caribbean who are engaged in relevant research/clinical activities. The programme is aimed at researchers at various levels including Senior Research Assistants, PhD students, Postdoctoral Researchers, Laboratory Scientists and Clinical Scientists/Healthcare Professionals. A limited number of bursaries is available to assist with travel and accommodation expenses. The course will be taught in English.