Cambridge Healthtech Institute’s 6th Annual

Advanced Diagnostics for Infectious Disease

New Frontiers in Infectious Disease Diagnostics

19-20 May 2020

Recent advances in technology are rapidly changing the landscape of infectious disease diagnostics, significantly reducing the time it takes to report a diagnosis. Techniques such as next-generation sequencing, and the data produced by tests, are changing the way researchers perform rapid diagnostics and detect antimicrobial resistance but create challenges of their own. Additionally, clinicians are being faced with the task of determining clinical utility for these new diagnostics and implementing into their workflow. The Sixth Annual Advanced Diagnostics for Infectious Disease will bring together leaders in the field to showcase the latest in technologies for diagnosing, monitoring, and managing infectious disease. Special consideration will be given to emerging and re-emerging pathogens, antimicrobial resistance, and the growing role of host and pathogen biomarkers in diagnostics.

Final Agenda


Recommended Short Course*

SC1: Technologies, Applications and Commercialisation of Point-of-Care Diagnostics - Detailed Agenda

*Separate Registration required.



08:00 Registration and Morning Coffee

08:55 Organizer’s Opening Remarks

Kaitlyn Barago, Project Manager, Production Initiatives, Cambridge Healthtech Institute, United States

09:00 Chairperson’s Remarks

François Jean, PhD, Associate Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia; Team Leader, NSERC CRD Grant in 3-D Brain Organoid Models of Arboviral Diseases; Co-Founder, Canadian Network of Scientific Platforms, Canada

09:05 Diagnostics for Epidemic Preparedness: Disrupt to Deliver

Cassandra Kelly-Cirino, PhD, Director, Emerging Threats, FIND, Switzerland

Diagnostics to address new and ongoing epidemics are critically needed; however, innovation and development is hampered by the episodic nature of the outbreaks coupled with generally small volume needs annually. Changes are needed to how we approach development and access to diagnostics to ensure countries with the highest need have access to sustainable, affordable and high quality products.

09:35 Ebola Virus – Pathogenesis & Countermeasures

Andrea Marzi, PhD, Chief, Immunobiology & Molecular Virology Unit, Laboratory of Virology, DIR, NIAID, NIH, United States

Highly pathogenic viruses continue to pose a significant threat to humans with their potential to cause global public health crises. In 2014, such a crisis was barely circumvented by the global commitment of resources to fight the Ebola virus (EBOV) epidemic that devastated West Africa and spread to Nigeria and the United States. Although there is still no licensed EBOV treatment available, Europe, China and Russia have licensed EBOV vaccines that will hopefully help prevent future outbreaks.

10:05 Sponsored Presentation (Opportunity Available)

10:35 Grand Opening Coffee Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing


11:15 Chairperson’s Remarks

John Hays, PhD, Associate Professor, Medical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, The Netherlands

11:15 The Impact of the Internet of Things in Combatting Antibiotic Resistance

John Hays, PhD, Associate Professor, Medical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, The Netherlands

The world is becoming more interconnected, with a future where household and medical devices can communicate with each other (the ‘Internet-of-Things’). However, this interconnectivity brings with it both potential advantages and disadvantages with respect to maintaining and improving societal and hospital-based healthcare. This presentation will identify some of the current and potential future applications of IoT technologies on the struggle against increasing global antibiotic resistance.

11:45 Developing a Novel Smartphone-Based Diagnostic System for Point-of-Care Detection of Infectious Diseases and Antimicrobial Resistance

Jesus Rodriguez Manzano, PhD, Lecturer in Antimicrobial Resistance and Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, United Kingdom

Smartphone-based diagnostics for infectious diseases has become a promising field enabling the delivery of precise diagnostics near the patient and in limited-resource settings. Although smartphones provide a user-friendly interface, cloud connectivity, and strong computational power, they are currently coupled with non-portable and expensive diagnostic platforms, typically based on fluorescent or colorimetric detection. This work demonstrates a smartphone-based platform for nucleic acid detection at the point-of-care, replicating the function of conventional lab-based quantitative PCR instruments. This is achieved by coupling semiconductor technology for non-optical real-time DNA sensing with isothermal amplification chemistries, reducing the need for complex and costly thermal management. Adoption of this platform will decrease the turnaround time for detection of nucleic acids, improving diagnostic capabilities, patient outcomes, and the management of infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance.

12:15 Does the Current Armoury of Rapid Diagnostic Tests Really Help Clinicians Reduce Unnecessary Antibiotic Prescribing for Respiratory Tract Infections?

Sanjay Patel, Consultant, Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Paediatrics, South Hampton Children’s Hospital, United Kingdom

Most diagnostic test manufacturers have focused their attention on distinguishing viral from bacterial infections. Unfortunately, there is very little data to suggest that such tests have a significant impact on antibiotic prescribing. Instead, the development of tests that provide information on which patients will benefit from antibiotics is proposed. However, it is necessary to optimise the current prescribing landscape before the benefits of such tests can be realised.

MeMedDiagnostics 12:45 Presentation to be Announced


13:15 LUNCHEON PRESENTATION: Commercialisation of an IVD in a Changing Global Environment

Lynn Stephenson, PhD, Marketing Manager, Dx Manufacturing & OEM, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Changes in international standards and regulations have created challenges and roadblocks to the commercialization of diagnostic devices. The choice of a contract manufacturing (CM) partner with the expertise to provide guidance and manufacturing capabilities is one strategy diagnostics companies can use to mitigate risk. A well-chosen CM partner can accelerate the commercialisation process by anticipating potential roadblocks. In this session, we will discuss best practices and key considerations for vetting contract manufacturing partners.

13:45 Session Break


14:15 Chairperson’s Remarks

Clare Morris, Principal Scientist, Division of Infectious Disease Diagnostics, National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, United Kingdom

14:20 FEATURED PRESENTATION: A Universal Cancer Assay With Applications in Infectious Disease: Are We There Yet?

Trau_MattMatt Trau, PhD, Deputy Director and Co-Founder, Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology; Professor, Chemistry, University of Queensland, Australia

The Centre for Personalised Nanomedicine at UQ is focused on translating nanotechnologies into a clinical setting, whilst developing the next generation of point-of-care diagnostic technologies to further empower the personalised and precision medicine approach. Our consortium recently published hundreds of epigenetic regions that are highly informative in cancer, as well as a unique epigenetic marker that appears to be universal for cancer. In this talk we will present data on the clinical translation of this approach, highlighting some of the positive impacts that such an approach can make. Along with comprehensive DNA/RNA/methylated-DNA sequencing methodologies, several point-of-care nanotechnologies recently developed by our lab will be presented.

14:45 Liquid Biopsy for Neuroinvasive Arbovirus Diseases

François Jean, PhD, Associate Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia; Team Leader, NSERC CRD Grant in 3-D Brain Organoid Models of Arboviral Diseases; Co-Founder, Canadian Network of Scientific Platforms, Canada

Arboviruses such as Zika (ZIKV) virus are responsible for a significant health burden worldwide. Dr. Jean will present the development of “liquid biopsy” for ZIKV-associated neurological diseases. With the recent discovery of circulating extracellular vesicles (EVs) and their important cellular functions in arboviral infections and diseases, we hypothesize that brain-derived (BD) EVs released during viral infection represent unexplored treasure troves of potential host-biomarkers for neuroinvasive arboviral diseases. We will report the molecular and biophysical characterization of BD EVs released from ZIKV-infected human cerebral organoids and discuss the impact of their findings for developing next-generation molecular diagnostics technology for neuroinvasive arbovirus infection.

15:10 How Good Is Your Assay and Can You Prove It?

Clare Morris, Principal Scientist, Division of Infectious Disease Diagnostics, National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, United Kingdom

Consistent and effective clinical management of diseases requires comparable data generated by diagnostic assays. With each advancement of technology we see new challenges, especially in the field of molecular assays. Whilst many laboratories acknowledge the need for validated assays and calibrated controls, there is great variation in methods to determine assay accuracy. Thus, even though a standard may exist, it serves little function if not used correctly. This presentation will address the application of these types of reference materials linked to a primary physical reference. “The International Standard”, wherever possible, can provide assurance of the quality of the data and, in turn, support improved clinical management of patients.

15:30 Development of Proteomic Signatures for Use in Precision Medicine

Anthony Whetton, PhD, Director, Stoller Biomarker Discovery Centre, University of Manchester, United Kingdom

Precision medicine is a key objective in improving healthcare. The use of innovations in MS-based technologies offers a high capacity throughput proteomic profiling for clinical biochemistry purposes, as has been achieved at the Stoller Biomarker Discovery Centre. For example, markers of risk in ovarian cancer and response to therapy in schizophrenia have been investigated using a Data Independent Acquisition (DIA) mass spectrometry approach, among other uses. Combined with validation platforms, this approach offers a quicker route to mechanistic detail/drug targets plus biomarkers for risk and stratification. New approaches to biomarker discovery are also coming to the fore using artificial intelligence approaches.

15:50 Lyophilization Solutions for Assay Developers

Peter Holden, PhD, Senior Business Development Manager, Licensing and Commercial Supply, Thermo Fisher Scientific, United States

Lyophilization has become increasingly popular among assay developers because it offers advantages in terms of ease of use, shelf life, and ambient temperature during shipping and storage. Now, Thermo Fisher Scientific can provide your assay to you in a lyophilized format, ready to ship to your customers. Learn about how you can streamline your supply chain by partnering with us on assay development and manufacturing.

16:20 Refreshment Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

17:00 Breakout Discussions (Visit for details)

TABLE: Virus Detection – New Approaches for Old and New Viruses

Moderator: Andrea Marzi, PhD, Chief, Immunobiology & Molecular Virology Unit, Laboratory of Virology, DIR, NIAID, NIH, United States

  • Improved sensitivity of assays for known viruses?
  • What samples are the best to look at?
  • Newer and faster platforms for virus detection?
  • Human versus animal samples – diagnostics versus virus hunt
  • Identifying new viruses – assay broadness at the cost of sensitivity and specificity?

TABLE: Developing Point-Of-Care Diagnostics for Antimicrobial Resistance

Moderator: John Hays, PhD, Associate Professor, Medical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, The Netherlands

  • What is the current state of affairs (laboratory versus POC Testing)?
  • AMR diagnostics in HIC versus LMICs?
  • How important are diagnostics for AMR in a One Health environment?
  • What is the role and success of prizes and national grant funding?
  • Test specifications, cost and reimbursement issues
  • Other implementation issues

18:00 Welcome Reception in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

19:00 Close of Day



08:00 Registration and Morning Coffee

09:00 Chairperson’s Remarks

Vanessa Harris, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Global Health, University Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development, The Netherlands

09:05 Advanced and Conventional Methods for the Identification of Infectious Agents: Have Ones Replaced the Others?

Adriana Calderaro, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Clinical Microbiology, Unit of Microbiology and Virology, Department of Medicine and Surgery; Director, Unit of Clinical Microbiology and Unit of Clinical Virology, Diagnostic Department, University Hospital of Parma, Italy

The combined application of conventional and innovative methods recently introduced and applied to the practice has an important effect in the diagnosis of infectious diseases and on the clinical management of the patient. A comparison between conventional and innovative methods and among different innovative methods for the detection and identification of infectious agents, including those causing nosocomial infections, was performed.


09:35 Intestinal Bacterial Microbiome as an Infectious Disease Diagnostic, Promises and Pitfalls

Vanessa Harris, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Global Health, University Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development, The Netherlands

Knowledge of and interest in the bacterial intestinal microbiome as a diagnostic and therapeutic is rapidly expanding. This talk explores the promise of the microbiome as an infectious disease diagnostic as well as the challenges, using our work evaluating the bacterial intestinal microbiome’s correlation with oral vaccine immunogenicity.

10:05 Developing Global Standards for the Microbiome

Gregory Amos, PhD, Senior Scientist, Bacteriology, National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, United Kingdom

Effective standardisation of the microbiome methodologies is essential to the entire microbiome community. We will describe the development of the first reference reagents and quality reporting framework produced by the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, which are candidates for the first World Health Organization International Reference reagents for NGS analysis of the microbiome. Widespread adoption of the standards could effectively standardise downstream gut microbiome analyses allowing commutability across assays and studies.

10:35 Sponsored Presentation (Opportunity Available)

11:05 Coffee Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

11:35 Breakout Discussions (Visit for details)

12:35 Session Break


14:00 Keynote Introduction

Gyorgy Abel, MD, PhD, Director, Molecular Diagnostics, Immunology & Clinical Chemistry, Laboratory Medicine, Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, United States





14:05 Rapid AMR Detection and Rapid Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing – Two Sides of the Same Coin in the Fight against AMR?

Till Bachmann, PhD, Professor, Deputy Head, Division of Infection and Pathway Medicine, Edinburgh Medical School, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Rapid diagnostics is considered a key tool to tackle antimicrobial resistance. While rapid molecular diagnostics of pathogens and antimicrobial resistance is established as a strong contender of traditional culture-based pathogen identification and susceptibility testing, its strengths lie in the determination of which antibiotics to avoid. Rapid antimicrobial susceptibility testing to find out which antibiotic to use is emerging at rapid pace using innovative techniques for phenotypic testing. The presentation will discuss the current landscape and emerging opportunities of these two leading diagnostic perspectives.

14:35 The Longitude Prize: Overcoming Hurdles to Market for AMR Point-of-Care Diagnostics

Caroline Purslow, Global Health Programme Manager, Nesta Challenges United Kingdom

Use of point-of-care diagnostic tests would reduce the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. Innovation in this area is moving at a rapid pace, yet few of these products have reached clinicians. The Longitude Prize was created to stimulate this innovation, yet without removing barriers to market access and implementation, a winning test cannot have the desired impact. This talk will provide an update on the Longitude Prize portfolio and the steps the project and wider community are undertaking to ensure novel point-of-care diagnostics reach the front-line.

15:05 Chest Infection. Are You Sure You Need Those Antibiotics?

Liz Cross, Advanced Nurse Practitioner, QN, Attenborough Surgery, Bushey Medical Centre, Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group, NIHR, United Kingdom

The outlying 5 highest antibiotic prescribing practices within Hert Valley CCG were selected and offered C-reactive protein (CRP) point-of-care-testing (POCT) as an intervention to aid them to reduce their antibiotic prescribing. These practices were provided with CRP machines for a one-year period, along with education. A practice champion in each surgery was identified who helped staff to engage with using the CRP POCT machine and who could help with identified problems, especially in the early stages. CRP POCT was not offered to every patient, just those cases where the GP had some reservations about the need for a prescription. The results show that 81% of patients offered CRP POCT did not receive antibiotics and 92% of patients did not reattend the practice within 28 days after having received a CRP POCT. We believe that if CRP POCT was not available then the majority of these patients would have been prescribed antibiotics. CRP POCT has therefore proven to be a beneficial tool in these high prescribing practices to reduced unscheduled reattendances and supporting GPs to use antibiotics more effectively.

15:35 Close of Advanced Diagnostics for Infectious Disease

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19-20 MAY 2020

20-21 MAY 2020