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Disease Monitoring
and prediction

Wastewater contains a variety of biomarkers that indicate the status of infectious diseases in a community. We are particularly interested in developing robust methods for quantifying biomarkers in complex wastewater matrices, understanding the dynamics of wastewater biomarkers in response to infectious diseases, and discovering new biomarkers to predict future endemics and pandemics. We collaborate closely with  the Erie County and NY State Department of Health, academic institutions, and industry to make our impacts.


Funded projects:

  • NSF CCF #2200173, ”Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention Phase I: Center for ecosystems data integration and pandemic early warning

  • CDC Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC), ”Wastewater surveillance to support COVID-19 response and expand New York State health security

  • Erie County Department of Health award #91287, ”SARS-CoV-2 wastewater monitoring program for Erie County


Virus inactivation

Infectious viruses are shed from patients into surrounding environments. It is important to apply effective engineering countermeasures to inactivate or remove viruses before they encounter the next hosts. However, viruses are mutating, and it is challenging to study inactivation behaviors of deadly viruses in laboratory. We innovate proteomic and genomic analysis to advance mechanistic understanding of molecular features that drive virus inactivation in water and air. The results are used to create mathematical models that predict effectiveness of inactivating emerging viruses by engineering practices.

Funded projects:

  • NSF CBET #2212779, ”Insights into biomolecular reactivity and structure for virus inactivation prediction

  • UB School of Public Health and Health Professions Pilot Funding Program, ”Reducing health impacts of airborne exposure to traffic air pollution and virus transmission: An intervention study on bus drivers


Fate of extracellular

Extracellular genes in the environment can be involved in biological processes that are relevant to human health. For example, extracellular antibiotic resistance genes can be up taken by competent bacteria via horizontal gene transfer and develop antimicrobial resistance. Metagenomic sequencing studies have found a wide range of antimicrobial resistance genes in manure and wastewater biosolids. The use of manure and wastewater sludge as fertilizers for crop production can spread antimicrobial resistance. We are interested in investigating abiotic decay pathways of extracellular genes and reaction products that impact natural transformation mechanisms. Our results are important to assess the risks of disseminating antimicrobial resistance in the environment.

Funding Sources

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