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Biology Articles » Bioinformatics » Poxvirus Bioinformatics Resource Center: a comprehensive Poxviridae informational and analytical resource » Introduction

Introduction
- Poxvirus Bioinformatics Resource Center: a comprehensive Poxviridae informational and analytical resource

An effective response to the use of biological organisms asagents of terrorism or warfare, or to the emergence of new infectiousdiseases requires a multi-disciplinary effort involving variousagencies at the local, state and federal levels including publichealth officials, hospital personnel, epidemiologists and themilitary. In addition to the public health response, a concertedresearch effort is necessary to better detect, understand andrespond to these threats. Such research requires developmentof environmental detectors and clinical diagnostic aids to provideus with rapid warning in the event of an outbreak as well asdevelopment of vaccines to prevent infection and antiviral orantibacterial drugs to cure infection. These efforts requirea comprehensive biological understanding of potential threatagents, including their molecular biology, genetics, pathogenicity,epidemiology and evolution. The National Institute of Allergyand Infectious Diseases as well as the US Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention maintain a list of priority pathogensthat are considered potential bio-threat agents and/or are microbesthat appear to be new or reemerging pathogens (http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/agentlist-category.aspand http://www.niaid.nih.gov/biodefense/bandc_priority.htm).Variola virus, the causative agent of smallpox and a memberof the Poxviridae family of viruses, has perhaps the greatestpotential for use as a bio-weapon and is one of the CategoryA pathogens on these priority pathogen lists (1). In addition,monkeypox virus, a member of the orthopoxvirus genus that includesvariola virus, has caused a number of disease outbreaks in recentyears, including outbreaks in North America resulting from theimportation of rodents from Africa intended to be sold as pets(2,3). The use of high-throughput DNA sequencing techniques as wellas other large-scale ‘Systems Biology’ technologieshave led to an unprecedented increase in the amount of availabledata. Therefore, one overarching necessity in research effortsdirected at providing a better understanding of priority pathogensis the need to collect, manage, describe, analyze and publicizethe vast amounts of information generated by modern, high-throughputbiological research. Therefore, the goal of the Poxvirus BioinformaticsResource Center (PBRC) is to organize all available informationon virus genetics thus aiding research efforts towards increasingour knowledge of virus replication and virus–host interactionon a gene-by-gene and whole genome basis. In addition, the PBRCis expanding on available knowledge by developing and utilizinganalysis tools that can further probe the information containedin the genome and gene sequences of these organisms. Since ourgoal is to establish an information resource to support researchefforts by the scientific community, we are also solicitinginput from that community to ensure the completeness and, aboveall, the accuracy of the information being provided and to ensurethat the software tools provided and in development reflectthe needs of the different research groups using these resources.

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