The current initiative arose at a point in time where several preconditions were met : 1) WGS had become mature and was increasingly introduced in routine laboratories, 2) the price of WGS was falling dramatically in some cases below the price of traditional identification, 3) the availability of a vast amount of IT resources and a fast Internet, and 4) the idea that via a One Health approach infectious diseases could be better controlled and prevented.
Starting the second millennium, many microbiological laboratories, as well as national health institutes, started sequencing the infectious agents collections they had in their biobanks. Thereby generating private databases and sending model genomes to the global DNA database GenBank. This started creating a wealth of genomic information, however, unlinked to each other and unlinked to important (global) metadata. The need to integrate these databases and to harmonize data collection was generally recognized by the scientific community.
In 2011, several infectious disease control centers and other organizations took the initiative of a series of international scientific- and policy-meetings, to develop a common platform and to better understand the potentials of an interactive microbiological genomic database. The first meeting was in Brussels, September 2011 [1 - 3], and a second in Washington, March 2012. In addition to experts from around the globe, Intergovernmental Organizations have been included in the action, notably the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).