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WRCE Theme 1: Platforms for Multiplexed Diagnostics for Category A-C Agents and Emerging Agents

Theme Leader: Richard Willson, PhD – University of Houston, Houston, TX

Expected Product: The proposed work will lead to the development of new diagnostic technologies, and their integration into platform diagnostic systems capable of rapidly detecting multiple pathogens in clinical specimens.

Description: The Platforms for Multiplexed Diagnostics for Category A-C Agents and Emerging Agents Theme is a tightly integrated set of coordinated projects, each aimed at developing diagnostics based on clinical presentation by syndromes. It is our intention to develop platforms that will be used in the clinical setting with point-of-care testing. Theme projects address the development of platform readout technologies and diagnostic methods capable of becoming assays that meet these criteria. Dr. Richard Willson serves as the Theme Leader to maintain close integration and achieve efficiencies through coordination of all theme activities. The WRCE is a particularly rich environment in which to develop diagnostics, as it includes many pathogen experts who can provide access to a large number of infectious disease agents and who can contribute to diagnostic development. Tools developed in this theme may also be used in vaccine and therapeutics development.

The researchers of diagnostics theme projects conducted in the WRCE should accomplish milestones at a faster rate and at lower cost than would be possible as an equally funded set of non-collaborative projects. Synergy and efficiency are maximized by the selection of projects which jointly focus on the development of inexpensive, platform diagnostics, and which support a high level of intra-theme cooperation. Toward this end, we are pursuing the development of four highly complementary platforms. Areas of particular, shareable expertise include sample preparation, isothermal nucleic acid amplification, microfluidics, optical imaging, and development of molecular reporters. The theme project leaders have chosen to focus their initial efforts on an overlapping set of infectious agents. By focusing their efforts this way, resources can be shared and developmental assays benchmarked against each other, and the pathogen-specific experience and expertise of diagnostics theme project leaders can be shared among all groups.