Signature Science to Support Rice University’s Development of SARS-CoV-2 Variant Tracking Software for the CDC

AUSTIN, TEXAS – July 27, 2021 – Signature Science, LLC will support Rice University’s recently awarded contract from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop the Harvest Variants software for integrated, collaborative variant tracking of SARS-CoV-2. Under a subcontract to Rice, valued at $249,942, Signature Science will perform functional biocurations of SARS-CoV-2 variants, as well as third party software testing and documentation services.

The objective of the project is to enhance Harvest, a suite of open-source microbial core-genome alignment and visualization tools originally published by Dr. Todd Treangen and others in 2014, to enable real-time monitoring of viral mutations in circulating SARS-CoV-2 lineages, at the intrahost and interhost levels. Real time monitoring, via the new open-source Harvest Variants software and databases, will support CDC and the broader public health community’s understanding of changes to SARS-CoV-2 infectivity and transmissibility, vaccine efficacy, and fitness within human hosts.

Signature Science’s biocurators will search information from credible functional studies and scientific publications to annotate the functional impact of individual SARS-CoV-2 mutations. This functional biocuration work serves to help end users of the Harvest Variants software visualize and interpret the significance of observed SARS-CoV-2 mutations. Further, Signature Science will perform independent testing and assist in software development to ensure the functional mutation information is correctly visualized, reported, and integrated with other software features.

“Rice’s Harvest Variants software will optimize widely adopted microbial genomics open source tools like Parsnp and Gingr for use in tracking SARS-CoV-2,” said Dr. Krista Ternus, Signature Science’s Project Manager and Principal Investigator. “The effort will benefit from the dedication of Dr. Gene Godbold and our biocuration team, who have many years of experience searching the scientific literature and annotating pathogenic functions for thousands of sequences from bacteria, viruses, and protozoan parasites. We are pleased that our capabilities will support Rice, the CDC, and the broader public health community in this important work.”

Signature Science will perform work under this subcontract from its facilities in Austin, Texas and Charlottesville, Virginia.

About Signature Science, LLC: A subsidiary of the Southwest Research Institute, Signature Science, LLC is a scientific and technical consulting firm providing multi-disciplinary applied research, technology design and development, and scientific, technical, and operational services to government and industry.