GISAID-WHO Training Workshop: "Genetic Analyses of Influenza Viruses", St. Petersburg, 28-29 August, 2014

The Research Institute of Influenza in collaboration with GISAID and the WHO, and with the support of Germany’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food (BMEL), organised a 2-day training workshop on genetic sequence analyses of influenza viruses on 28-29 August, 2014, in St. Petersburg. The workshop was held at the Oktiabrskaya hotel.

39 participants from CIS and Baltic region' countries attended the workshop. The purpose of the workshop was to introduce the new version of GISAID’s EpiFlu 2.0 (flyer, PDF) database and demonstrate the various novel features which will enable all institutions/laboratories interested in influenza to benefit from the extensive cumulative data in the GISAID database, in relation to the epidemiology of human and animal influenza and the emergence and spread of novel genetic (and antigenic) variants. In particular, training in the use of the database is aimed at assisting all GISRS laboratories (WHO NIC’s) to understand the significance of sequence data on their viruses (in many cases determined by a WHO CC), in assisting veterinary labs to monitor animal viruses, especially during outbreaks, and to promote increased interaction between veterinary and public health labs/institutions. Advanced tools, such as FluSurver, integrated in the GISAID platform, will enable those less skilled in molecular analyses to identify the functional significance of mutations contributing to flu evolution, and affecting functional properties, including e.g. antigenicity, receptor binding and antiviral sensitivity.

The course was taught by staff from the FLI, Germany, the BIIA-STAR, Singapore and the RII, Russia, and partners in the EU project PREDEMICS from the IZSVe, Italy and NIMR, UK. Simultaneous English-Russian translation was provided during the whole workshop. Upon completion all trainees recieved personal certificates.

The programme included:

  • Evolutionary aspects of human and animal influenza viruses
  • Sequence determinationThe GISAID EpiFlu database – features and tools
  • Submission and curation of data
  • Sequence analysis - comparisons/phylogeny (evolution)Mutation interpretation - phenotypic/functional association (e.g. receptor binding, antigenicity, antiviral resistance)

Demonstrations (hands-on):

  • Access (and submission) of data
  • Sequence alignment and phylogenetic trees
  • Mutation analysis – frequency and significance (FluSurver)