Collaborating Authors

Real-time epidemiology from urban wastewater

AITopics Original Links

A team of MIT researchers, together with researchers from Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research and Kuwait University, has been awarded a $4 million grant for a collaborative research project titled "The Underworlds Project: a Smart Sewage Infrastructure for Kuwait." The Underworlds project is being funded through the Kuwait-MIT Center for Natural Resources and the Environment (CNRE) by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) with a performance period of three years commencing this November. Underworlds taps into biomarkers embedded in municipal wastewater and sewage networks to leverage spatiotemporal sampling in order to create a real-time public health profile of urban areas. The project then explores a plethora of ideas to identify, track, and monitor infectious diseases; to track antibiotic resistance genes and multi-drug-resistant bacteria; and to identify a multitude of other indicators of public health and biosecurity. Underworlds combines novel concepts in smart city design and urban informatics with advances in biological engineering and bioinformatics.

Get Value from Systems of Intelligence and Cognitive Computing - Microsoft Enterprise


Cognitive Computing in its essence is tremendously creative, it helps us to find complex correlations, and lets us see things that could not be seen with an average human eye. What once was science fiction, is now reality. And that's why I want to share a couple of practical examples, how life sciences companies have applied cognitive services and artificial intelligence to transform their businesses and ultimately provide better, innovative products, invent new business models, provide personalized, customer-centric services and optimized their operations. This first example with Dartmouth Hitchcock shows how to get closer to the vision of ever more individualized healthcare: ImagineCare is a highly coordinated, intensely personalized solution for chronic diseases. This cloud-based system enables nurses and health coaches track and respond to an individual's health status in real time.

16 innovations to change poultry production


The first-ever Poultry Tech Summit brought together tech innovators, venture capitalists and poultry companies from 20 countries to triangulate on the next generation of technology that will solve problems and open new opportunities in poultry production. Poultry Tech Summit, a WATT Global Media event, was held November 5-7, 2018, in Atlanta. Inventor-entrepreneurs pitched innovations ranging from robots that patrol poultry houses to more mundane problem solvers like rust-proof gearboxes for the poultry processing plant. From live production to processing and all through the supply chain, every facet of the poultry business is touched by the innovations presented at Poultry Tech Summit. Robotics and automation generated intense interest for their potential to reduce labor, be on duty 24/7 and report remotely.

Anomalous COVID-19 tests hinder researchers


Universities conduct a large proportion of the community surveillance testing for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) ([ 1 ][1]). At the same time, they have shifted focus to SARS-CoV-2 research to address critical needs during this pandemic. There are now multiple reports of asymptomatic researchers who worked with or near non-infectious SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acids and subsequently tested positive during SARS-CoV-2 surveillance screening ([ 2 ][2], [ 3 ][3]). Such positive test results and the resulting isolation and quarantine are deleterious to the health of researchers, their research programs, and their close contacts. Universities and labs should take steps to identify and prevent misleading test results among their researchers. Because health departments cannot distinguish positive test results reflecting exposure to non-infectious nucleic acids from those revealing true active SARS-CoV-2 infections, affected U.S. researchers are removed from the testing pool for 90 days, a period during which true infections could be missed ([ 4 ][4]). Additional false positives could result when monitoring of wastewater for viral outbreaks detects DNA products that are washed down the drain as non-biohazardous waste ([ 5 ][5]). As polymerase chain reaction tests, other DNA amplification tests ([ 6 ][6], [ 7 ][7]), and the recently approved at-home nucleic acid tests ([ 8 ][8]) become more widespread, these cases will likely become more frequent among researchers. To mitigate harm from misleading results, we recommend the implementation of extra safety controls ([ 2 ][2]) in addition to standard practices for handling nucleic acids ([ 9 ][9]). Genetic loci should be chosen with care to not interfere with any available tests. Incorporation of deoxyuridine triphosphate, codon optimization, and DNA watermarks can prevent detection of a laboratory-generated nucleic acid and differentiate it from circulating pathogens ([ 10 ][10], [ 11 ][11]). DNA products should be treated with bleach or other DNA-damaging agents before disposal. The best policies and practices for preventing laboratory contamination should take place before initiating research: Once a space is contaminated with DNA, it is extremely difficult to decontaminate ([ 2 ][2]). These policies should accommodate the specific needs of the research and the institutions and not place undue burden on the essential work of studying these pathogens. For individuals who are asymptomatic, have no history of SARS-CoV-2 exposure, and are affected by anomalous surveillance test results, we propose verification with orthogonal follow-up testing. At an institutional level, administrators, environmental health and safety personnel, and departments of public health should collaborate to determine who is at risk for anomalous tests and coordinate immediate follow-up testing. Alternate providers using orthogonal tests should be established before surveillance testing and/or research initiation. Community-wide COVID-19 surveillance testing directly improves human health ([ 12 ][12]). Given the extensive development in testing infrastructure amassed during this short period, viral testing will likely extend to other pathogens, endemic or emergent. Sensible policies governing the stewardship of nucleic acids will help protect this vital asset. 1. [↵][13]Massachusetts Department of Public Health, “Massachusetts Department of Public Health COVID-19 dashboard—Dashboard of public health indicators” (2020), p. 22; [][14]. 2. [↵][15]1. L. R. Robinson-McCarthy et al ., OSF Preprints, 10.31219/ (2020). 3. [↵][16]1. K. J. Wu , “These researchers tested positive. But the virus wasn't the cause,” The New York Times (2020). 4. [↵][17]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Duration of isolation and precautions for adults with COVID-19,” (2020); [][18]. 5. [↵][19]“Status of environmental surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 virus” (World Health Organization, 2020). 6. [↵][20]1. B. A. Rabe, 2. C. Cepko , Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 117, 24450 (2020). [OpenUrl][21][Abstract/FREE Full Text][22] 7. [↵][23]1. J. Joung et al ., N. Engl. J. Med. 383, 1492 (2020). [OpenUrl][24] 8. [↵][25]U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Lucira COVID-19 all-in-one test kit” letter of authorization (2020); [][26]. 9. [↵][27]“Dos and Don'ts for molecular testing” (World Health Organization, 2018). 10. [↵][28]1. D. C. Jupiter et al ., PLOS Pathog. 6, e1000950 (2010). [OpenUrl][29][PubMed][30] 11. [↵][31]1. M. C. Longo, 2. M. S. Berninger, 3. J. L. Hartley , Gene 93, 125 (1990). [OpenUrl][32][CrossRef][33][PubMed][34][Web of Science][35] 12. [↵][36]1. A. M. Neilan et al ., Clin. Infect. Dis. 10.1093/cid/ciaa1418 (2020). L.R.R.-M., A.J.M., G.T.F., R.F., O.D., D.T.-O., G.M.C., and J.M.T. are co-inventors of MAP-Dx, a COVID diagnostic platform. J.J.C. is a co-founder and director of Sherlock Biosciences. G.M.C.'s tech transfer, advisory roles, and funding sources can be found at . 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How sewer science could ease testing pressure and track COVID-19

The Japan Times

LONDON – The science of sewage surveillance could be deployed in countries across the world to help monitor the spread of national epidemics of COVID-19 while reducing the need for mass testing, scientists say. Experts in the field -- known as wastewater epidemiology -- say that as countries begin to ease pandemic lockdown restrictions, searching sewage for signs of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus could help them monitor and respond to flare-ups. Small early studies conducted by scientific teams in The Netherlands, France, Australia and elsewhere have found signs that the COVID-19-causing virus can be detected in sewage. "Most people know that you emit lots of this virus through respiratory particles in droplets from the lungs, but what's less well known is that you actually emit more small virus particles in feces," said Davey Jones, a professor of environmental science at Britain's Bangor University. This suggests that on a wider scale, sewage sampling would be able to estimate the approximate number of people infected in a geographic area without having to test every person.