(CBS Detroit) — Four Michigan universities are receiving $18.5 million in federal funding for the next two years to collect and analyze genomic data to address infectious disease threats.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced Michigan Tech University, Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State University will use the funding to increase sequencing capacity starting with the coronavirus. Funding for the Michigan Sequencing Academic Partnership for Public Health Innovation and Response (MISAPPHIRE) is through a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity grant.

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“The COVID19 pandemic has highlighted the importance and need for genomic sequencing, surveillance and epidemiology capacity both globally and right here in
Michigan,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “The MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories has rapidly expanded its efforts to identify COVID19 variants since the start of the pandemic to support public health actions. MISAPPHIRE will allow our state to expand sequencing and analysis capacity and the number of pathogens that undergo routine sequencing, and ensure we are sampling diverse geographic areas across the state.

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Officials say MISAPPHIRE activities include sequence generation and analysis, such as sample collection and sequencing, data processing, storage and sharing and data interpretation and analytics.

MDHHS says the partnership with the four universities will allow for scalability of capacity and response for SARSCoV2 and other pathogens.

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