Illumina, USAID, and Broad Institute form partnership to help fight Ebola in West Africa.

Illumina, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and researchers from the Broad Institute are cooperating to train and equip scientists in West Africa. The partnership is an effort to help track the mutating Ebola virus. Real-time tracking information will help to develop diagnostic tests and vaccines.

“The United States is embracing a new model of development. One grounded in a focus on innovation, local leadership, and public-private partnerships to accelerate progress in the most challenging places.” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, in a statement. “By partnering with experts from the Broad Institute and Illumina, we can give health workers the tools they need to win the fight against Ebola”

The initial wave of facilities will be set up in Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. There are plans to include other West African countries in the longer term. The centers will offer aid to remote areas where resources are most limited.

Pardis Sabeti, and his team from the Broad Institute, have already been working in the region, training researchers in the use of diagnostic and sequencing technology. The results of this initial collaboration have already been published in Science, profiling the outbreak in Sierra Leone. The newly formed partnership will allow similar studies to take place in the other affected countries.

The potential contribution toward developing diagnostics, vaccines and treatments is very promising. In addition to helping fight Ebola, it may also be a significant step in integrating genomics into healthcare in other parts of the world.