Celebrating the contribution of viral sequencing to the COVID-19 pandemic response

How sequencing became a cornerstone for scientific evidence on viral spread, immune evasion and disease severity.

  • Mon 21st Oct 2024
  • 19:30-21:00
  • Wolfson Lecture Theatre, Churchill College, Storey's Way, Cambridge, CB3 0DS and Zoom
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Microbial sequencing allows us to define the genetic code of individual microbes as well as microbial communities. Already a well-established research tool by the time that the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, this was translated at pace to track viral evolution at an unprecedented scale. In this talk, I will give an overview of how genomic data were used to guide the pandemic response at a national and global scale. I will provide a birds-eye view of the reasons behind viral evolution as well as the practical reality of tracking variants. I will also describe what it took to translate and embed this technology into the UK response during a national emergency.

Professor Sharon Peacock, Professor of Public Health and Microbiology, Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge; Director and Chair of the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium

Sharon Peacock is Master Elect of Churchill College and Professor of Microbiology and Public Health at the University of Cambridge. She was founding Director of the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK), formed in April 2020 to provide SARS-CoV-2 genomes towards the UK pandemic response. Prior to this, she dedicated more than a decade to the translation of pathogen sequencing into clinical and public health microbiology, as well as using sequencing to examine the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria between humans, livestock, and the environment. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, and an elected Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). Sharon was awarded the Unilever Colworth Prize in 2018 and the Marjorie Stephenson Prize in 2023 for outstanding contributions to the discipline of microbiology. Sharon was awarded a CBE for services to Medical Microbiology in 2015, and in 2021 received the Medical Research Council Millennium Medal.

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