Improving microbial outbreak responses through integration of knowledge engineering and bioinformatics platform development

Infectious diseases remain a serious and constant threat despite the high standards of sanitation and health care enjoyed by the British Columbians. Moreover, British Columbians, living in a major port of entry to Canada, face an increased risk of contact with emerging infectious diseases as exemplified by SARS. An effective disease surveillance system requires multiple health organizations to work together and share information with each other. Advances in genomic technology have improved the detection and characterization of disease-causing microbes and provide public health practitioners a better surveillance tool. Yet, genomic data is voluminous and complex, creating a challenge for our health care system and practitioners. Moreover, contextual data needed to interpret genomic data often contain sensitive and private information making sharing of contextual data across jurisdictions a challenge.

Dr. Hsiao's research program builds innovative technology solutions to improve organizational efficiency, trust, and capacity of BC's public health surveillance network. Our work will stop the spread of diseases, reduce the overall disease burden and health care cost, and ultimately improve the health and well-being of British Columbians.