The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a $7,385,049 contract to the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) in support the DARPA Prophecy (Pathogen Defeat) program. Prophecy seeks to transform the vaccine and drug development enterprise from observational and reactive to predictive and preemptive by spurring development of a multidisciplinary approach to predicting viral evolution.
With the exception of limited influenza viral-forecasting based on uneven global statistics, there is presently no reliable capability to predict viral reassortment or mutations responsible for the emergence of new viral strains. This capability gap leaves the military vulnerable to the detrimental health effects of future viral strains, and thus poses a significant risk to assured military readiness.
The Prophecy program is organized in three-phases to focus on: 1) development of a viral-evolution platform for generating datasets used to build and validate algorithms predictive of viral evolution; 2) refinement of the platform to include mechanisms capable of controlling multiple selective pressures and accompanying predictive evolutionary models and algorithms; and 3) testing and validation of the system and algorithms using multiple selective pressures on at least three closely related virus strains in an experimental setting.
The award to University of California San Francisco is a modification to a cost plus fixed fee contract (HR0011-11-C-0094). Work will be performed in San Francisco, Calif., (54.5 precent); Buenos Aires, Argentina (5 precent); San Diego, Calif. (15 precent); New York, N.Y. (7.5 precent); Stanford, Calif. (15 precent) and Haifa, Israel (3 precent). The work is expected to be completed by March 31, 2014.