Wastewater Surveillance: An Important Tool in Detecting COVID-19 and Other Pathogens
A Virtual Conversation with Sarah Kane, Ph.D., Director of Research and Development for GT Molecular
Wednesday, April 12, at 7 PM EDT on Zoom
The United States has been monitoring for the coronavirus in wastewater since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched its National Wastewater Surveillance System in September 2020. But that testing mainly involved wastewater from households or buildings. Last month, the CDC announced it was talking to airlines about the possibility of testing for the coronavirus in sewage from planes. The CDC believes that expanding surveillance to include wastewater could allow the agency to collect more data about emerging variants.
Sarah Kane, PhD, director of research and development for GT Molecular, will talk to SWINY-co-chair David Levine (@dlloydlevine) about the technology of testing wastewater for pathogens, including COVID-19 and Mpox, and how it can help prevent/mitigate future pandemics.
According to the New York State Department of Health “Wastewater surveillance provides a fast, confidential and accurate way to detect Illness-causing viruses, bacteria, or exposures to environmental hazards testing waste streams entering a wastewater treatment plant. This type of surveillance helps health departments, the health care community and hospitals protect public health.”
- Wastewater surveillance can show accurate trends of cases in a community without waiting for people to get tested on their own.
- Wastewater surveillance protects people’s privacy. Wastewater is collected and tested from community wastewater treatment plants. Results are not traced back to individuals.
- Wastewater surveillance is especially useful for tracking illness because it measures levels of viruses, bacteria, and germs, regardless of whether people have symptoms or not.
About Sarah Kane, PhD
Sarah Kane received her PhD in cell and molecular biology from Colorado State University. While her doctoral and postdoctoral projects primarily focused on prion diseases, Dr. Kane maintains an interest in various fields spanning immunology, infectious disease, and neuroscience.
She joined GT Molecular’s growing Research and Development team early during the COVID-19 pandemic to develop PCR assays and validate GT Molecular’s national wastewater testing service.
Currently and throughout the pandemic, Sarah and other team members design and validate PCR kits capable of detecting and calculating the abundance of SARS-CoV-2 variants from wastewater that represents an average, community-wide sample. Sarah currently serves as Director of R&D, where she oversees projects using GT Molecular’s patent-pending technology around multiplexed digital PCR and next-generation sequencing (NGS) assay development for cancer and pathogen detection both in clinical and wastewater-based epidemiology settings.
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Wednesday, April 12, 7 to 8 pm EDT