(Micro) bioterrorism

Improving anthrax preparedness and response efforts...using bioinformatics! 🧫

🧪 What is this project about?

Anthrax is a serious, life-threatening infectious disease caused by bacteria. Most anthrax cases have been caused by the species Bacillus anthracis; however, recently, some Bacillus species that were previously unable to cause anthrax have acquired the ability to cause severe (and often fatal) anthrax-like illness. This project aims to provide public health laboratories and clinics around the world with novel tools that can help them prepare for and respond to anthrax illnesses and outbreaks.

Maximum likelihood phylogeny of all anthrax-causing Bacillus strains...plus their close relatives, which can't cause anthrax!

🧐 Why is it important to research this?

Due to the severity of anthrax and its previous use as a bioterrorism agent, anthrax-causing Bacillus represent a severe global public health threat. Currently, there are limited resources available to public health laboratories and clinics to help them identify and pinpoint the source of an anthrax outbreak or attack. The resources that do exist have severe problems, which could potentially hinder laboratory response efforts in an emergency. We're hoping that the tools developed in this project can improve anthrax emergency preparedness and response efforts!

🤞 What can we hope to get out of this project?

This project will provide novel insights into the epidemiology of anthrax. Specifically, doctors and public health officials will be able to pinpoint exactly where in the world anthrax-causing Bacillus are located, which can help them to prepare for potential anthrax illness cases, outbreaks, or bioterrorism attacks so that they can respond quickly in an emergency!