If Jared Auclair has his way, his lab at Northeastern University will help ensure that the U.S. is never again caught off guard by an emerging pathogen like COVID-19.
Auclair, technical supervisor of the university’s Life Sciences Testing Center, and his team are working with the Boston biotech company Ginkgo Bioworks to develop a system to test samples collected at airports and other places of entry to the country for monkeypox.
The process is serving as a test case for a partnership that could result in Northeastern University playing an important role in national biosurveillance and biosecurity programs, Auclair says.
“We’re thinking about a national infrastructure of response to future pathogens. We’re really thinking of what is entering the country and how we can monitor it,” he says.
“One of the most important parts of surveillance is response time,” Auclair says.
“If we see a report of a pathogen starting to come through the country like we saw with COVID in Seattle or monkeypox overseas, how quickly can we respond?”
In the case of monkeypox, the answer is two weeks.
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Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University.