Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began, Dr. Ariani was seconded onto the Sanger Institute’s HERON project, where she built up capacity to sequence huge volumes of COVID-19 samples. The transition was difficult, but fulfilling because of the enormous public health impact of the data she was generating.
“The Wellcome Sanger Institute’s COVID operations were probably the largest in the world,” says Dr. Ariani. “We sequenced 20 per cent of all COVID samples ever sequenced — about two and a half million samples. Obviously malaria and COVID are very different, but I'd like to bring some of the learnings from that project to malaria. One of the reasons that I'm so keen to take on this role is that I bring all the learnings from the COVID project, along with all my scientific background, too.”