Ginkgo Bioworks, a leading horizontal platform for cell programming and biosecurity, has teamed up with the Government of the Republic of Panama’s Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Studies to develop and implement new biosecurity capabilities in Latin America. This collaboration comes as a significant step forward in bolstering biosecurity infrastructure in the region and will contribute to the detection and monitoring of current and future pathogens.
The partnership is facilitated through Ginkgo Bioworks’ biosecurity and public health unit, Concentric by Ginkgo, which focuses on building global infrastructure for biosecurity. The primary goal of this collaboration is to support the Gorgas Institute as it lays the foundation for Panama’s bioeconomy. The development of these biosecurity capabilities will not only benefit Panama but also extend support to neighboring countries.
One of the main aspects of this program involves strengthening Panama’s current surveillance infrastructure for COVID-19, as well as other respiratory and enteric pathogens. Concentric by Ginkgo will bring its expertise in wastewater monitoring, lab enablement, and bioinformatics analysis and decision support to enhance the surveillance efforts. This program will operate strategically in key locations, including major urban centers like Panama City and critical points of entry like the border crossing in the Darien National Park and Tocumen International Airport.
By establishing these monitoring programs, Panama is set to become a pivotal node in Concentric’s global network, which collects data to help public health and national security officials detect and respond to emerging biological threats. The information gathered from these programs will play a crucial role in strengthening Panama’s COVID-19 and novel pathogen detection infrastructure, as well as contribute key data for regional pandemic preparedness.
Matt McKnight, General Manager of Biosecurity at Ginkgo Bioworks, expressed his excitement about collaborating with the Republic of Panama to strengthen health security capabilities in the region. He emphasized the critical role robust bio-surveillance plays not only in the country’s health but also in the security of the entire Western Hemisphere. The partnership between Ginkgo Bioworks and the Gorgas Institute is expected to be instrumental in advancing health security in the region and the world.
Dr. Juan Miguel Pascale, General Director of Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Studies, also emphasized the importance of these detection and monitoring programs in Panama’s public health initiatives. The collaboration with Concentric by Ginkgo is seen as a significant step forward in advancing biosecurity programs and addressing biological threats effectively.
Ginkgo Bioworks is recognized as a leader in cell programming, providing diverse markets with end-to-end services that address various challenges, ranging from food and agriculture to pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals. Concentric by Ginkgo, their biosecurity and public health unit is dedicated to empowering governments, communities, and public health leaders to prevent, detect, and respond to a wide variety of biological threats.
The Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Studies is the national reference laboratory and research institute of Panama, supporting the Ministry of Health. Founded in 1928 in memory of Dr. William C. Gorgas, who played a significant role in controlling malaria and yellow fever during the construction of the Panama Canal, the institute’s research has focused on tropical diseases and surveillance of various infectious agents.
This collaborative effort between Ginkgo Bioworks and the Gorgas Institute signifies a notable step towards enhancing biosecurity in Latin America. The program will provide crucial data and tools to effectively combat existing and future pathogens, ultimately strengthening the region’s public health and security capabilities.