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Ginkgo Bioworks Awarded Grant for AI-enabled Forecasting of Measles Outbreaks

10 April 2024
  • Ginkgo epidemiological modeling experts and Northeastern University researchers awarded new grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

BOSTON, April 10, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Ginkgo Bioworks (NYSE: DNA), which is building the leading platform for cell programming and biosecurity, today announced that it has been awarded a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build an open-access, AI-enabled measles forecasting model to empower proactive public health measures, such as immunization campaigns, in partnership with Northeastern University researchers Alessandro Vespignani and Sam Scarpino

Ginkgo Bioworks Awarded Grant for AI-enabled Forecasting of Measles Outbreaks

Measles is a highly contagious and often severe disease that most commonly affects children. While the widespread availability of measles vaccines has dramatically reduced the disease burden over the past several decades, cases are on the rise in the U.S. this year, and global outbreaks continue to cause significant illness and mortality, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. These consequences are largely preventable through early interventions, but getting ahead of major outbreaks is difficult when access to data is limited.

With support from the Gates Foundation, expert epidemiologists and modelers from Ginkgo Bioworks and Northeastern University will develop a measles forecasting model to assess the risk of outbreaks and inform decision-making for timely interventions. Because measles reporting is often sparse, especially in low-resource settings, the model will draw upon traditional and non-traditional data, including public health reports, travel patterns, economic activity, and other factors, and utilize AI approaches such as machine learning and deep learning to structure and analyze a multitude of data sources to produce actionable insights.

Alessandro Vespignani, Director of the Network Science Institute and Sternberg Family Distinguished Professor at Northeastern University: "With support from the Gates Foundation, our project with Ginkgo Bioworks sets a new standard for what can be achieved when academia, industry, and philanthropy come together to develop global health solutions. By bringing together the expertise of multiple sectors and modern AI capabilities, we can create powerful, innovative tools that will provide critical information for safeguarding communities worldwide against the threat of measles."

The forecasting model will be available open-access to help the global health community understand how likely it is that measles will emerge and spread within a given area, with the intent of enabling them to better allocate scarce resources and reduce the global burden of measles.

Matt McKnight, General Manager for Biosecurity at Ginkgo Bioworks: "If we wait until large pockets of measles show up in hospital systems to launch public health responses, we are missing a critical window to act and slow the spread of this debilitating and highly contagious disease. Modern data and AI tools can shift the biosecurity and public health paradigm from reactive to proactive by helping global health leaders make more timely, effective decisions to prevent outbreaks from happening in the first place. We believe the technologies we're developing will give us the ability to get ahead of the curve for measles and other biological threats."

About Ginkgo Bioworks

Ginkgo Bioworks is the leading horizontal platform for cell programming, providing flexible, end-to-end services that solve challenges for organizations across diverse markets, from food and agriculture to pharmaceuticals to industrial and specialty chemicals. Ginkgo's biosecurity and public health unit, Concentric by Ginkgo, is building global infrastructure for biosecurity to empower governments, communities, and public health leaders to prevent, detect and respond to a wide variety of biological threats. For more information, visitginkgobioworks.com and concentricbyginkgo.com, read our blog, or follow us on social media channels such as X (@Ginkgo and @ConcentricByGBW), Instagram (@GinkgoBioworks), Threads (@GinkgoBioworks) orLinkedIn.

Forward-Looking Statements of Ginkgo Bioworks

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws, including statements regarding the capabilities and potential success of the partnership and Ginkgo's biosecurity platform. These forward-looking statements generally are identified by the words "believe," "can," "project," "potential," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "intend," "strategy," "future," "opportunity," "plan," "may," "should," "will," "would," "will be," "will continue," "will likely result," and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are predictions, projections and other statements about future events that are based on current expectations and assumptions and, as a result, are subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this press release, including but not limited to: (i) volatility in the price of Ginkgo's securities due to a variety of factors, including changes in the competitive and highly regulated industries in which Ginkgo operates and plans to operate, variations in performance across competitors, and changes in laws and regulations affecting Ginkgo's business, (ii) the ability to implement business plans, forecasts, and other expectations, and to identify and realize additional business opportunities, (iii) the risk of downturns in demand for products using synthetic biology, (iv) the uncertainty regarding the demand for passive monitoring programs and biosecurity services, (v) changes to the biosecurity industry, including due to advancements in technology, emerging competition and evolution in industry demands, standards and regulations, (vi) the outcome of any pending or potential legal proceedings against Ginkgo, (vii) our ability to realize the expected benefits from and the success of our Foundry platform programs, (viii) our ability to successfully develop engineered cells, bioprocesses, data packages or other deliverables, and (ix) the product development or commercialization success of our customers. The foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive. You should carefully consider the foregoing factors and the other risks and uncertainties described in the "Risk Factors" section of Ginkgo's annual report on Form 10-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") on February 29, 2024 and other documents filed by Ginkgo from time to time with the SEC. These filings identify and address other important risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events and results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and Ginkgo assumes no obligation and does not intend to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Ginkgo does not give any assurance that it will achieve its expectations.

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