Viral discovery was initiated at BSRI in 2004 with the characterization of a previously unknown human parvovirus commonly found in the blood of people with blood exposure, such as injection drug users and hemophiliacs. We have since sequenced numerous genomes of human, animal, insect or unknown cellular origin. Following genome characterization and phylogenetic analysis, our goals are to measure viral prevalence, diversity, and pathogenicity. BSRI is equipped with an Illumina MiSeq and a high-performance computing platform for bioinformatics analyses, an example of which can be seen here.
Many human and animal diseases of likely infectious origin remain unexplained. Such diseases may be caused or aggravated by viruses for which genomes have not yet been characterized. Sequencing potential viral pathogen genomes provides the starting information required for studies to determine whether these viruses are associated with unexplained diseases using PCR, in situ hybridization, antibody staining and/or serology.
The complex viromes of different human as well as wild and domesticated animal populations are also characterized to allow future changes associated with disease outbreak to be rapidly identified.
A better definition of the many viruses circulating in different animal species will also help rapidly identify the origin of viral outbreaks from cross-species transmissions.