GA4GH Genomic Data Sharing Tools Against COVID-19
The COVID‑19 outbreak has highlighted the need for genomic data standards in order to enable the rapid sharing of high quality genomic and health data. Researchers have shared viral and host sequence data at an unprecedented pace, a first step in creating vaccines in record time. Simultaneously, the cost of genome sequencing continues to decrease, yielding millions of samples in the coming years from both research and healthcare. Sharing of this data is necessary to understand human diseases and eventually help patients. Strengthening international standards over time will prepare us to more effectively respond to future outbreaks as well as advance basic biology and inform clinical care across a range of disease areas. Doing so requires the community to agree on common methods for collecting, storing, transferring, accessing, and analyzing data. The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) was established in 2013 to accelerate progress in genomic research and human health by cultivating a common framework of standards and harmonized approaches for effective and responsible data sharing. GA4GH brings together 1,000+ individual contributors and 660+ organizational members across 35+ countries working in the areas of healthcare, research, patient advocacy, life science, and information technology to deliver genomic data sharing standards and frameworks. This proposal will provide support for the GA4GH to bring in additional personnel, support the existing team, and drive engagement with the Canadian COVID research community. GA4GH will develop, refine, and adapt GA4GH standards and open-source tools to facilitate research data sharing for COVID applications and the greater infection disease community. Collectively, these efforts will ensure the rapid and timely research response to the current phase of the COVID‑19 pandemic in Canada and around the globe, which will be heavily impacted by emerging variants of concern.