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Vaccination has played a significant role in controlling and eliminating life-threatening infectious diseases throughout the world, and yet currently licensed vaccines represent only the tip of the iceberg in terms of controlling human pathogens. However, as we discuss in this Review, the arrival of the genome era has revolutionized vaccine development and catalyzed a shift from conventional culture-based approaches to genome-based vaccinology. The availability of complete bacterial genomes has led to the development and application of high-throughput analyses that enable rapid targeted identification of novel vaccine antigens. Furthermore, structural vaccinology is emerging as a powerful tool for the rational design or modification of vaccine antigens to improve their immunogenicity and safety.