Cambridge Healthtech Institute's 27th International

Biodetection Technologies

Biothreat and Pathogen Detection

June 17-18, 2019

The 27th International Biodetection Technologies: Biothreat and Pathogen Detection is an internationally recognized meeting for experts in detection & identification of biological threats. This conference will address the key topics in pathogen detection and present the latest R&D and technological innovation in ready-to-market systems. In addition, this meeting will focus on the latest strategies to overcoming the hurdles to the identification of global biological threats and translational gaps in bringing technologies from lab to field. This conference will feature stimulating discussions, perspectives of end users, high quality case studies and provides the opportunity to network with the leading experts in biodefense from around the globe.

This event is in conjunction with our 27th International Biodetection Technologies: Point-of-Care for Biodefense as well as our 8th Annual Biosurveillance Integration conference. Together, these events will provide three full days of programming around biodetection technologies and biosurveillance in both the field and the lab.

Final Agenda


7:30 AM Registration and Morning Coffee

Rapid and Future Technologies for Biodetection

8:25 Chairperson’s Opening Remarks

Chris Taitt, PhD, Research Biologist, United States Naval Research Laboratory

8:30 Harnessing Evolution: Designing Advanced Phage-Based Tools for Bacteria Detection

Sam Nugen, PhD, Associate Professor, Food Science, Cornell University

We can take advantage of the ability of bacteriophages, the naturally evolved predators of bacteria, to design rapid and specific tools to detect bacteria. Advances in genetic engineering and synthetic biology allow the development of synthetic phages which can infect specific hosts and deliver genetic payloads encoding custom and sensitive reporter probes. This has allowed the development of phage-based assays which can provide rapid and low-cost detection of viable bacteria.

9:00 xMAP® Multiplex Detection: Getting Beyond Detection to Include Built-In Confirmation, Characterization, and the Ability to Distinguish between Unanticipated Homologous Analytes

Eric Garber, Research Scientist, ORS, FDA CFSAN

Antibody-based assays enable the detection of analytes, though cross-reactivity with homologous analytes is a problem. Multiplex methods to generate antigenic profiles and other secondary endpoints provide built-in confirmation, recognition, and characterization, along with the detection of novel analytes. This approach was applied to the detection of toxins and then food allergens to address the complexity of a global marketplace and the prevalence of food allergies.

9:30 FEATURED PRESENTATION: The BioACER Project: Biological Automated Collector/Detector for Expeditionary Reconnaissance

Cory Bernhards, PhD, Research Microbiologist, CBR, Defense Threat Reduction Agency

Remote biothreat identification technologies are needed to reduce risk to military operators and improve decision making during a biological attack/incident. As a proof-of-concept, a prototype is currently being designed for the identification of Yersinia pestis. This future-forward technology will provide new capabilities to survey the battlefield and operational environments remotely, providing real-time data for integrated early warning.

10:00 Networking Coffee Break

10:30 A Novel Multiplex Assay for Detection of Orthopoxvirus (OPV)

Neeraja Venkateswaran, PhD, Senior Scientist, R&D, TetraCore, Inc.

Vaccinia virus (VACV) is an enveloped DNA virus belonging to genus orthopoxvirus (OPV), family Poxviridae. VACV and other closely related members, variola virus (VARV), monkeypox (MPXV) and cowpox (CPXV) may cause human febrile disease with rash which may range from being a single localized lesion to a severe fatal systemic infection such as smallpox. We have developed mouse monoclonal and rabbit polyclonal antibodies to VACV that were used to develop a novel multiplex assay for detection of OPV.

11:00 PANEL DISCUSSION: Detecting Infectious Disease Threat (IDTs) Where it is Needed

Moderator: Willy Valdivia-Granda, Founder & CEO, Orion Integrated Biosciences, Inc.

Periodically previously unknown infectious diseases emerge to affect human, animals and plants; similarly, pathogens present in a population at low levels have re-emerged rapidly in incidence and geographic range with equally grave consequences. Given the dynamics of environmental change, travel and the ability of different governments to detect IDTs is key to develop integrative policies to accurately detect infectious diseases. This panel will discuss the challenges that more 1500 IDTs pose to human, animal or plant health and how different technologies can be applied in diverse operational environments. The practical requirements, regulatory issues and policy challenges will be discussed.

12:00 PM Sponsored Presentation (Opportunity Available)

12:30 Luncheon Presentation (Sponsorship Opportunity Available) or Enjoy Lunch on Your Own

Screening, Capture & Biosurveillance

1:55 Chairperson’s Remarks

Willy Valdivia-Granda, Founder and CEO, Orion Integrated Biosciences, Inc.

2:00 KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: Perspectives on AI Disruptions for Biodefense

Jason Paragas, PhD, Director, Innovation, Lawrence Livermore National Lab

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a rapidly evolving technology that is significantly disrupting many sectors of the economy. Recently, AI-based technologies have been revealing new insights in the health and biopharmaceutical sectors. Biodefense is not immune and will be influenced by AI-based tools and the likely effects will advance our biodefense apertures. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has partnerships in basic science, drug discovery and development, vaccine design, and clinical medicine that serve as pathfinders in the new AI-driven science and technology landscapes.

2:30 Diagnostics in Resource-Limited Environments - An Update from Our 2018 Trials

Chris Taitt, PhD, Research Biochemist, Center for Bio Molecular Science & Engineering, U.S. Naval Research Lab

In collaboration with clinical researchers in Sierra Leone, West Africa, we have characterized a number of diagnostic platforms ranging from simple lateral flow tests to multi-step PCRs, while also determining the prevalence of several vector- and soil-borne diseases. Operation of even simple platforms in resource-limited environments can be challenging and we will describe our own experiences with test performance and information management, a critical aspect of diagnostic or clinical lab.

3:00 Opening Refreshment Break in Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

4:00 Mistaken Identity – The FBI Laboratory’s Experience with Field Biodetection Technologies

Cary Rue, Microbiologist, Microbiology, FBI Lab

First responders need tools to help them make informed decisions concerning evacuations, medical treatments, decontaminiation and other matters. Real-world experience shows that the selection of appropriate technologies, the maturity of the technologies they are based on, and human factors are continuing to be challenges for responders. Case studies involving the use of various instruments for the detection of biological threats will be discussed.

4:30 Behind-the-Scenes of Genomic Sequencing in Surveillance and Clinical Projects

Wiriya Rutvisuttinunt, Lead Molecular Genomics Core, Viral Diseases Branch, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research

Our standard procedures for sequencing are designed to generate complete genomes from samples with large host genomic backgrounds. Herein, we will present several technical obstacles that have challenged our scientific goals and we will discuss experimental approaches used in our laboratory to overcome these problems. These results will highlight how Viral Disease Branch-WRAIR utilizes the flexibility and pushes the boundaries of NGS methods in order to generate specific data to answer complex questions in both clinical and research settings.

5:00 Metagenomic Sequencing of Air Filter Samples towards Biosurveillance in South Korea Using Nanopore Sensing Technology

Timothy Reed, Microbiologist, 20th Command CARA, US Army

In a collaboration effort with ECBC, DTRA, JPEO and the 20th Command CARA, we are developing a workflow pipeline to analyze air filter samples from Dry Filter Units (DFUs) for biothreat agents in under eight hours. This will allow orthogonal testing method for theater validation labs in South Korea and provide additional information that traditional PCR could miss or leave unclear. The use of nanopore sensing technology provides the portable, low cost and rapid library preparation needed to provide metagenomic sequencing capabilities in South Korea.

5:30 Welcome Reception in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

6:30 End of Day


8:30 AM Morning Coffee

Identification & Management of Emerging and Reemerging Pathogens

8:55 Chairperson’s Remarks

Cory Bernhards, PhD, Research Microbiologist, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, RDECOM Edgewood Chemical Biological Center

9:00 Challenges and Opportunities in Agricultural Biodetection Deployment and Adoption

Alan Rudolph, Vice President for Research, Colorado State University

The agricultural industry has experienced significant losses and economic consequences, estimated in the billions of dollars, from infectious disease outbreaks in animals and plants caused by pathogens. This session will provide an overview of the state of the challenges associated with agricultural threat and pathogen detection; new policies and investments in the United States for agricultural biosecurity; and a discussion of the challenges and opportunities of deployment and adoption of new biodetection technologies within communities of use, including the socio-cultural barriers in the introduction and adoption of new biodetection technologies and practices.

9:30 Genomic Characterization of Known and Unknown Organisms in Terrestrial and Aquatic Environments

Willy Valdivia-Granda, Founder & CEO, Orion Integrated Biosciences, Inc.

In this talk we will present a new approach for the sensitive detection and characterization of known and unknown organisms using second and third generation DNA sequencing technologies. Our approach will discuss the characterization with resolution at strain level and the implications in the assessment of threat level using plasmid information, virulence factors and antimicrobial resistance profiles. The accuracy of different sequencing platforms and benchmarking of available analysis tools against RIGEL-MTP will be highlighted.

10:00 Sponsored Presentation (Opportunity Available)

10:30 Coffee Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

11:15 Adapting New Technologies for the Molecular Diagnostics of High Consequence and Regulatory Plant Pathogens

Yazmin Rivera, Molecular Biologist, PPQ S&T, US Department of Agriculture APHIS

The USDA APHIS PPQ Center for Plant Health Science and Technology focuses on using the latest technology for the molecular detection and diagnostics of plant pathogens of high consequence for the United States. Over the years, technologies like CANARY, isothermal amplification, and high throughput sequencing have been used to support decisions that safeguard United States agriculture and trade. This presentation will discuss the successes and challenges in the diagnosis of plant pathogens, and current efforts using the latest technologies.

Advances in nucleic acid technologies & next-generation sequencing

11:45 U.S. Navy Efforts in Field-Forward DNA Sequencing

Nathanael Reynolds, CBMSE, US Naval Research Lab

Recent natural infectious diseases outbreaks and proliferation of dual-use bio-technologies have elevated the risk of biological threats to the military and global heath. To enhance the U.S. Navy’s ability to detect and identify infectious disease agents within a mobile setting, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in collaboration with the Biological Defense Research Directorate (BDRD) is developing a field-forward DNA sequencing capability. Utilizing the Oxford Nanopore Technology’s MinION sequencer, we have demonstrated bacterial bio-agent identification within a field-forward mobile laboratory setting through amplicon-based sequencing. Efforts are underway to demonstrate expanded DNA amplicon and metagenomic sequencing capabilities for comprehensive biothreat identification in a deployed mobile laboratory and shipboard environment.

12:15 PM End of Biodetection Technologies: Biothreat and Pathogen Detection