Wastewater has been used for infectious disease surveillance of poliovirus for decades, and in 2020 has been demonstrated a valuable tool for assessment of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. Wastewater-based screening of infectious diseases can serve as an early warning of outbreaks or the presence of asymptomatic virus without the invasiveness of frequently swabbing individuals. In addition to pathogen data relevant to public health, human stool contains a wealth of health data for the individual that has been so far underused because of our aversion to collecting and handling specimens.
Our team proposes to revolutionize “precision wastewater analysis” at the individual level as a novel and needed platform for early detection of infectious disease, for management of gastro-intestinal (GI) illness, and for monitoring health and wellness. Through the Smart Toilet Lab, research is underway on the development of wastewater-based collection of human stools for individual health screening outside the purview of the user with no burden nor discomfort for the individual. We are also developing technologies to enhance infectious disease surveillance for groups through wastewater analysis.