LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Over the next two years, four Michigan universities will be receiving millions in federal funding to help research and address infectious disease threats, including COVID-19.

Michigan Tech University, Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State University will use the funding to increase sequencing capacity in the state starting with SARS-CoV-2 and other threats of infectious disease.

The Michigan Sequencing Academic Partnership for Public Health Innovation and Response (MI-SAPPHIRE) is funded through a CDC Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity grant.

MI-SAPPHIRE activities will include sample collection and sequencing; data processing, storage and sharing; and data interpretation and analytics.

Elizabeth Hertel, courtesy of MDHHS

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance and need for genomic sequencing, surveillance and epidemiology capacity both globally and right here in Michigan. The MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories has rapidly expanded its efforts to identify COVID-19 variants since the start of the pandemic to support public health actions. MI-SAPPHIRE 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.”

Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director

According to MDHHS, partnerships with the four universities will allow for the scalability of capacity and response for SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens.

The MDHHS BOL has sequenced 23,000 COVID-19 samples since March 2020.