Biotia Launches GeoSeeq Watchtower System: A Global Genomics-Based Infectious Disease Monitoring Program
Biotia, a health tech company based in New York City, announced today its launch of the GeoSeeq Watchtower System. Using genomics, the program provides support for 12 groups monitoring infectious disease hotspots to profile emerging infectious disease risks.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the fragility of global health, social systems and economies and revealed the need for a more robust global infectious disease-monitoring system. With support from The Rockefeller Foundation, the GeoSeeq Watchtower System is generating data to be shared publicly and onboarded onto the GeoSeeq platform, which will serve as an early warning system for the world, allowing health professionals to identify and track emerging infectious diseases in real time and help prevent pandemics.
The GeoSeeq Watchtower System was announced at a recent presentation to the United Nations General Assembly. At that presentation, Dr. Niamh O’Hara, CEO and cofounder of Biotia, outlined that “any early warning system benefits from including genomics in combination with other data streams.” She went on to add that “climate data is especially important because we see changes in climate driving much of the increases in infectious disease risk, especially for vector-borne pathogens.”
The GeoSeeq platform will use data from many sources, including climate forecasts, land- and water-use records, mobility and travel predictions, social determinants of health and epidemiological and microbial genomics. It will leverage the latest advancements in computational technology, access to growing numbers of digital data resources and an increasing pool of global talent to predict, simulate and optimize outbreak response.
An esteemed group of scientists — affiliated with the MetaSUB consortium founded by Dr. Chris Mason of Biotia and Weill Cornell Medicine — was selected to join the program, including the following: Anne Wyllie, Ph.D., Yale School of Public Health; Olayinka Osuolale, Ph.D., Elizade University; Sion Williams, Ph.D., University of Miami; Gregorio Iraola, Ph.D., Kinzbio; Josefina Gutiérrez, DVM, Austral University of Chile; Xavier Rodo, Ph.D., Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal); Sofya Pozdniakova, Ph.D., ISGlobal; Tieliu Shi, Ph.D., East China Normal University; Rafael Freitas, Ph.D., Fiocruz; Gabriel da Luz Wallau, Fiocruz; Soojin Jang, Ph.D., Institut Pasteur Korea; and Erik Andersson, University of Illinois Chicago.
The GeoSeeq Watchtower System is already making significant strides: It is currently running a viral surveillance program at avian migratory hotspots in Chile (led by Dr. Gutiérrez), tracking coinfection of malaria and viruses in patients in a rural community in Nigeria (led by Dr. Osuolale) and monitoring circulating viruses using mosquito metagenomics in Brazil (led by Dr. Freitas).
“Creating this early-warning system for infectious diseases is the goal of our scientific collaboration,” Dr. Freitas said. “We have learned from the past, and an early-warning system like this would have been instrumental in managing the outbreak of the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil in 2015.”
The group is partnering with public health professionals to build dashboards that will help the GeoSeeq Watchtower System positively impact local health. For example, this will help guide local professionals on when and where they should spray for mosquitoes and mobilize resources to specific regions based on risk levels.
“The vision for the early-warning system is to empower local researchers and support the development of community-driven projects and models,” said Dr. David Danko, CTO of Biotia. “In this way, we are democratizing data and access to AI tools and insights.”
Learn more about the impact of GeoSeeq’s early-warning system for infectious diseases and watch highlights from Biotia’s presentation to the United Nations in this video. For more information, visit GeoSeeq.com.
Biotia is a health-tech company located in New York, N.Y., that leverages sequencing-based technology and proprietary AI-powered software to rapidly and accurately identify microorganisms and antimicrobial resistance. Its mission is to fight infectious diseases by deploying the leading reference library of microbes worldwide. As a spinout company of Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech, Biotia has a New York State CLIA lab for infectious disease diagnostics testing affiliated with SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. Connect on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.