genomics lite: genomic surveillance in focus
This session will explore what genomic surveillance is, how advancements in genome sequencing technologies allows for real time tracking of genomic changes in pathogen outbreaks, and how this has been used in recent outbreaks such a COVID-19 and Ebola. The career journey of our guest speaker will also be highlighted.
Our guest speaker for Genomics Lite: Genomic Surveillance in Focus is Valerie Vancollie. Valerie is an Advanced Research Assistant who works on whole genome sequencing projects, including COVID-19 sequencing as part of Wellcome Sanger Institute COVID-19 Surveillance Team.
Genomics Lite in Focus is a programme of live webinars to inspire and engage upper secondary school students, teachers and other educational groups. Each talk explores a different field in biology in focus, highlighting how genomics research contributes to understanding the topic.
Each 75 minute session includes a 30 minute talk on the topic, a 15 minute talk about the speakers career journey, and time for Q&A with the audience. Polls and audience questions are used throughout to encourage interaction betweent the audience and the speaker.
Learn more about genomics surveillance
These resources are designed to support and further attendees understanding of genomic surveillance, and are aimed at students in upper secondary years (e.g. year 10 and higher).
What is genomic surveillance?
- Genomic surveillance involves sequencing the genetic material of pathogens that cause infectious diseases, identifying changes linked to the origins or characteristics of a disease. Learn more about infectious diseases here.
- These changes, or mutations, occur when viruses replicate their genetic material - DNA or RNA - inside the hosts cell. Find out more about how Covid-19 variants evolve here.
- Scientists can track these mutations over time to see how viruses spread during an outbreak, when new variants emerge, and how the outbreak might be best contained.
How has genomic surveillance been used during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- From the start of the pandemic, scientists started sequencing the virus to better understand Covid-19.
- Since then, genomics surveillance has been used to understand how SARS-COV-2 first entered the UK.
- Ongoing genomics surveillance, through sequencing large numbers of viral samples, has allowed scientists to understand and track the proportion of different COVID variants across the world.
- Scientists have paid particular attention to mutations in the spike protein, as this is the basis of most COVID vaccine mechanisms.
- This video highlights the genomic sequencing and surveillance of SARS-COV-2 at the Wellcome Sanger Institute: