May 9, 2013 - ASM Sends Letter Regarding CDC Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD) Infectious Disease Initiative

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) strongly supports funding within the President's FY 2014 budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that will create a new program, the Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD) and Response to Infectious Disease Outbreaks initiative. The requested $40 million will help build critical genomics and bioinformatics capacities at CDC and state public health laboratories, improving infectious disease detection, control, and prevention.

Genetic sequencing of microorganisms can generate new levels of detailed information for diagnostic and surveillance purposes, with potential applications across all CDC activities. AMD based tools can more quickly and accurately identify the patterns of infectious disease transmission and provide significantly more useful pathogen profiles, reducing morbidity and mortality and saving healthcare costs.

The FY 2014 funding for AMD capacity building is needed to reinforce CDC’s mission against the human and economic costs of infectious diseases. As our nation’s foremost health protection agency, CDC is relied upon nationally and globally for its technology dependent laboratory capabilities, disease surveillance, and disease prevention campaigns. Unfortunately, the agency currently lacks the resources to utilize fully the cutting edge molecular and bioinformatics tools so important in today’s rapidly changing public health enterprise.

With the additional FY 2014 resources, CDC will invest in several priority areas that include improved laboratory identification of pathogens, development of next generation diagnostics, new bioinformatics computing capacity and reference databases, enhanced information network systems, and predictive models for emerging infections. Whole genome sequencing promises great potential in mitigating the negative impacts of microbial threats like drug resistant pathogens and the healthcare associated infections that sicken more than 1 million Americans each year.

The AMD initiative will help CDC and its public health partners achieve more rapid, accurate and cost effective diagnoses, helping healthcare providers more effectively treat patients, while detecting trends such as emerging antibiotic resistance among microbial pathogens. The proposed funding will underwrite the requisite laboratory and computing infrastructures to fully leverage AMD technologies. The CDC already has initiated a bioinformatics program aimed toward modernizing agency efforts like PulseNet, its foodborne disease surveillance network that thus far tracks a DNA database of nearly half a million bacterial isolates from patients, food, and the environment.

Genomic epidemiology is transforming our detection and surveillance of all infectious diseases, including those previously unknown or those caused by multidrug resistant pathogens. CDC capabilities and resources clearly must keep pace with any scientific advances in AMD technology to optimally protect against infectious diseases. We urge Congress to increase funding for CDC, including funding dedicated to the AMD initiative, to sustain the Agency’s protection of public health.


Jeff F. Miller, Ph.D.

President, ASM

Roberto Kolter, Ph.D.

Chair, Public and Scientific Affairs Board

Stephen M. Ostroff, M.D.

Chair, Committee on Public Health