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Infectious diseases remain among the most common and fatal of diseases. According to estimations of the World Health Organization, infectious diseases caused 14.7 million deaths in 2001, accounting for 26% of the total global mortality. Although vaccination is effective against deadly infectious diseases, only a small number of vaccines have been successfully developed since Edward Jenner’s cowpox vaccine against smallpox was introduced more than 200 years ago. For example, Brucella melitensis causing zoonotic brucellosis has been identified more than one century ago and listed as select agents amenable for use in biological warfare and bio-terrorism; however, there is still no safe and effective Brucella vaccine available for human use. New therapeutic drugs are also needed to fight against emerging drug-resistant pathogens and other pathogens. Successful development of effective vaccines and drugs relies on our better understanding of microbial pathogenesis and host protective immune mechanisms.

Infectious disease is the result of an interactive relationship between a pathogen and its host. Genomic information of completely sequenced organisms provides valuable information not only for identification and reconstruction of intra-organismic processes but also for interactions between host and microbial organisms. A large amount of host-pathogen interaction research data is available in literature databases, and state-of-the-art microarray and proteomics approaches have created large amounts of gene expression data related to host-pathogen interactions. While lots of bioinformatics systems have been developed for genomic analysis and functional annotation in individual model organisms, different informatics tools and resources are demanded to study the intricate interactions between host and pathogen.

One key research theme in our group is the integration and analysis of various host-pathogen interaction data with the aim to better understand fundamental mechanisms in microbial pathogenesis and host immunity, allowing rational vaccine and drug design to efficiently prevent and treat infectious diseases. Pathovex is designed for this purpose. Pathovex is for pathogen and vaccine-related gene expression profile studies.