Methods workshop

December 12th, 2022

The landscape for wastewater surveillance has shifted from proof-of-concept to rapidly measuring new targets. This workshop provided an overview of both broadly applied and new methods. The focus of the discussion was on method agility to respond to new targets, including new variants and emerging pathogens. The 2-hour workshop was open to all attendees and approximately 85 researchers attended, with participants coming from both academic and non-academic settings.

Session 1 Panel Discussion
The panelist included the following experts who provided 15 minute overviews of a given method.
– Aaron Bivins (Assistant Professor, Louisiana State University) discussed dPCR.
– Rose Kantor (Assistant Research Engineer, UC Berkeley) provided an overview of sequencing approaches.
– Hui Peng (Assistant Professor, University of Toronto) introduced PCR/MS.
– Jing Li (Postdoctoral Scholar, UC Los Angeles) spoke about MG-LAMP methods.

Following the panel discussion and Q&A, participants were asked to move into breakout rooms to discuss their approaches.

Session II: Breakout discussion
Discussion questions:
– What challenges do you have in adopting new targets?
– How have you overcome these challenges? 
– What do you think are the biggest research needs to enhance the agility of wastewater surveillance to emerging public health threats

Participants in their groups identified many challenges to new targets including:
– Availability of shedding information of new pathogens
– Public health relevance
– Data interpretation (non-detects) and the sensitivity for different approaches
– Biosafety protocols for new targets

Participants in multiple groups identified the need to partner with clinicians or public health investigators to prioritize targets. This could help with obtaining shedding data for pathogens. Shedding was identified as a major research need to advance wastewater surveillance.

A recording for the workshop is available here: