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Concentric By Ginkgo and Texas A&M University Awarded USDA NIFA AFRI Grant to Conduct Genomic Animal Research to Prevent Zoonotic Disease Spillover

September 29, 2023

The grant will fund research of white-tailed deer to evolve knowledge of spillover events and support efforts to design an early warning system for biological threats

BOSTON and COLLEGE STATION, Texas, Sept. 29, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Ginkgo Bioworks (NYSE: DNA), which is building the leading platform for cell programming and biosecurity, and Texas A&M University today announced they have been jointly awarded a research grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) via the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (NIFA AFRI) to study SARS-CoV-2 in white-tailed deer populations in Texas.   

This research is one of the first at-scale studies that will conduct widespread DNA sequencing of white-tailed deer in Texas. White-tailed deer are a farmed animal species that have historically had high positivity rates of SARS-CoV-2 in wild populations throughout the United States. As part of the study, Ginkgo's biosecurity and public health unit, Concentric by Ginkgo, and researchers from Texas A&M's School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences aim to identify if, when, and how both farmed and wild white-tailed deer become infected with SARS-CoV-2 and how this spread of disease can impact other animal species, including humans.

Texas A&M will screen both historic and newly collected samples for the presence of the virus, which will then be sequenced and analyzed by Concentric. Results of the research can give the agriculture and livestock industries the data points needed to develop infrastructure in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection in deer and future zoonotic disease outbreaks impacting livestock.

"We are honored to be an awardee of a USDA grant. Zoonotic pathogen research like this is key to helping make informed decisions and avoid future outbreaks," said Matt McKnight, General Manager, Biosecurity at Ginkgo Bioworks. "This data and research will provide governments, industry leaders, and academics the information they need to optimize behaviors and provide early warnings to help prevent disease spillover."

Concentric also plans to use the information from this research to monitor for zoonotic spillover in the future, building biosecurity infrastructure international governments can use to strengthen their biosurveillance efforts and establish early warning systems.

"We look forward to collaborating with Concentric to further understand how SARS-CoV-2 is spread through this deer population," said Dr. Sarah Hamer, VMBS professor of epidemiology and lead researcher on the project. "This research will be vital in identifying interventions to reduce the risk of diseases in farmed animals, humans, wildlife and other domestic animal populations."

"APHIS has long relied on collaboration with our state, Tribal, federal, and private partners to help protect our nation's agricultural and natural resources," said APHIS Acting Administrator Dr. Michael Watson in a press release issued earlier this month. "We are excited about the opportunity these new partnerships give us to build critical One Health coordination and capacity while furthering the science on SARS-CoV-2. This important work will strengthen our foundation to protect humans and animals for years to come."

About the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
For more than 100 years, the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences has been improving animal, human, and environmental health through teaching, research, veterinary care, service, and outreach. Since its establishment in 1916, the VMBS has graduated almost 9,000 Aggie veterinarians who now proudly serve Texas' 30 million residents and their animals, as well as in military, industrial, governmental, and academic roles around the world. VMBS faculty and staff are committed to exceptional teaching, research that addresses significant animal and human health problems, and compassionate patient care, serving 28,000 animals annually across all species through the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. With more than 700 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program students and 260 graduate students involved in quality research projects, the VMBS is preparing graduates to meet the health needs of the 21st century and beyond. Learn more at or on Facebook, Instagram, X, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Threads at @tamuvetmed.

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, visit and, read our blog, or follow us on social media channels such as X (formerly known as Twitter) (@Ginkgo and @ConcentricByGinkgo), Instagram (@GinkgoBioworks and @ConcentricByGinkgo), Threads (@GinkgoBioworks), or LinkedIn.

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) our ability to realize the expected benefits of merger and acquisition transactions, (vii) the outcome of any legal proceedings against Ginkgo, including as a result of recent acquisitions, (viii) our ability to realize the expected benefits from and the success of our Foundry platform programs, (ix) our ability to successfully develop engineered cells, bioprocesses, data packages or other deliverables, and (x) 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 quarterly report on Form 10-Q filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") on August 9, 2023 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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