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19 Oct 2017

Communicable Diseases Genomics Network ‘Putting Genomics into Action’ workshop - report

The Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory (MDU PHL) facilitated a one-day workshop in Canberra on the 19th October 2017, bringing together members of the Communicable Diseases Genomics Network (CDGN). The CDGN, established in 2015, is a network of Public Health Laboratories and other key stakeholders in Australia that aims to address the implementation of genomics into communicable diseases surveillance and response.

The objectives of the CDGN include; establish consensus on whole genome sequencing (WGS) platforms and methods, establish jurisdictional capacity and expertise in microbial WGS, establish consistent, validated national microbial bioinformatics pipelines, and develop procedures and policies to allow rapid national genomic data sharing and response, to enhance public health outbreak detection and response.

The purpose of the workshop was to work collaboratively to enhance communicable disease surveillance and control in Australia, through the optimal use of genomic technologies.

The objectives of the workshop were to:

  • Discuss governance of the CDGN;
  • Identify jurisdictional needs for contribution to the national network;
  • Agree on approaches to standardised analysis and reporting, at jurisdictional, national and international levels;
  • Agree on a path forward for sharing of genomic data and metadata.

The workshop focussed on NATA accreditation for communicable diseases genomics and consistency in bioinformatic analyses and standardisation of reporting of genomic data, to work towards consistency in the generation and reporting of microbial genomic data in Australia.

The afternoon session engaged attendees in a productive, facilitated discussion, identifying jurisdictional needs for contribution to a national network, addressing sharing of sequence data, sharing of expertise and protocols, and an agreement to establish approaches to standardised analysis and reporting.

CDGN members reached a consensus to continue to work collaboratively to enhance communicable disease surveillance and control in Australia, through the optimal use of new genomic technology.

Key workshop outcomes included agreement for sharing of sequence data, expertise and protocols, and the formation of working groups to facilitate the design of activities to achieve network objectives.

The four working groups are; implementation of genomic technology, accreditation and quality assurance for WGS; understanding of databases and bioinformatic tools; approaches for data sharing, governance and access; and application of genomics for action in outbreak and surveillance pilot projects. A workshop report will be produced and disseminated to the network to support future CDGN activities.

The one day workshop provided an excellent opportunity to bring together public health laboratories and key stakeholders across jurisdictions, to establish the path forward for the CDGN, highlight jurisdictional needs, and confirm agreement for the need for data sharing policies and procedures. The workshop provided numerous outcomes that will shape the path forward for the CDGN.

Author: Chantel Lin (MDU PHL)

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