Microbial genomics is one of the specialties of the future!
Be it in remote, tropical and underserved locations, or in very specialized and well-equipped healthcare centres in developed countries, skills in microbiology have always been valuable. With the establishment of the era of genomics, we are now faced with unprecedented opportunities in the field of infectious diseases that bring along new professional avenues for clinicians and molecular biologists all over the world.
In countries with good resources and well-developed health systems (e.g. US, Western Europe) , national public health services are already incorporating the DNA analysis of bacteria into routine infectious disease diagnosis. As well as the traditional methods of growing bacteria in the lab and testing them with chemicals, bacteria like tuberculosis and salmonella may additionally have their DNA analysed to find out how they behave, and whether they are part of a bigger outbreak.
In the developing world, there are now lots of examples of how the DNA analysis of viruses is assisting the continuous surveillance and real-time tracking of transmission events in the field (e.g. ebola (in Sierra Leone) and zika virus (in Brazil)).
The rapid expansion of the clinical use of pathogen genomics requires new infrastructure, extended skills, education of the workforce, and zealous engagement with the public—all very exciting fields for action! Essential to the provision of whole genome sequencing services (and related (bio)informatics structure) is the expansion of the genomics workforce and the improvement of genetic literacy across healthcare staff that will act upon the wealth of genomic information, such as laboratory biomedical scientists, clinicians and field epidemiologists. No wonder why microbial genomics has emerged as an important subspecialty to infectious diseases and as an important diagnostic service to other fields that manage infectious pathologies.
You can read more about developments in the clinical use of Infectious Disease genomics here:
Perspectives for personalized therapy for patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (here)