GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Spectrum Health is teaming up with Michigan State University to identify which COVID-19 variants are circulating in West Michigan.
MSU was among four universities that shared a $ 18.5 million grant from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to “collect and analyze genomic data to address new threats to communicable diseases and improve Michigan’s ability to respond to them.” “according to a new release. .
The grant was funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Adam Caulfield, director of microbiology at Spectrum, said the partnership would help Spectrum and MSU develop a faster monitoring system to identify “how COVID is currently behaving and what variants or versions of COVID are circulating locally in West Michigan.”
The effort could also help determine which variant is “around the next corner” and whether that variant “behaves differently,” Caulfield said. Typically, when Spectrum tests a patient for COVID-19, the test does not identify which variant a person has, he said.
Michigan Technological University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University also received a portion of the $ 18.5 million grant. The share of the grant to MSU is $ 2.5 million, Caulfield said.
“This project is important as we focus on developing new computational tools for this pandemic and future viruses,” Jeremy Prokop, assistant professor at MSU College of Human Medicine, said in a statement. “Through this collaboration with Spectrum Health, we will launch new tools that can one day be used by others to quickly take the sequence of a viral genome and not only correlate it with known strains of the virus, such as omicron, but also discover new variants. , which may have a significant impact on public health. “
The efforts made by the universities are called the Michigan Sequencing Academic Partnership for Public Health Innovation and Response.