Advanced Molecular Detection

Advanced Molecular Detection: The First Five Years at CDC

Illustration of Advanced Molecular Detection

Five years ago, CDC had fallen behind in a critical technology: DNA sequencing. A revolution in the field was under way—next-generation sequencing (NGS)—that promised more finely detailed and precise data to guide public health actions, such as detecting and responding to outbreaks. Since the Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD) Program began in 2014, CDC has become a leader in applying NGS to public health challenges.

In just five years, CDC has built a workforce capable of applying NGS and related technologies to over 50 infectious diseases. To make use of this enormous flow of genomic data, the agency has increased its high-performance computing capacity and is making increasing use of cloud services. CDC’s infectious disease laboratories now lead the way in using NGS to improve health.

Moreover, state and local public health laboratories across the United States now have NGS capacity and the systems needed to support it. These advancements are helping public health agencies discover new trends in drug resistance, detect emerging outbreaks faster, and stop outbreaks more effectively. For example, one CDC partner supported by the Advanced Molecular Detection Program was able to confirm that a hotel hot tub in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, was the likely source of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that sickened 19 people, one of whom died.

How AMD efforts help us prepare for infectious disease threats
  • Better understanding of influenza viruses to improve vaccine developments
  • Faster detection of emerging outbreaks for early intervention and control
  • More effective interventions in outbreaks
  • Improved insights into preventing foodborne outbreaks
  • Discovery of new trends in drug resistance