WaSHAID Researcher at Bench


Wastewater has been used for infectious disease surveillance of polio virus 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 approach

Our team has demonstrated a revolutionary “precision wastewater analysis” at the individual level as a novel and needed platform for early detection of infectious disease, for management of gastrointestinal (GI) illness, and for monitoring digestive health. Through the Smart Toilet Lab, we have developed tracking and physical sampling of human stool post-toilet flush for individual health screening outside the purview of the user with no burden or discomfort for the individual. 

We have demonstrated approaches to enhance infectious disease surveillance for groups through wastewater analysis in a study of SARS-CoV-2 during the pandemic. 

Our innovative sample collection methods are also supporting the Duke NSF Engineering Research Center for Precision Microbiome Engineering (PreMiEr).  PreMiEr Is pursuing measurements of microbes in the built environment (e.g.  homes, workplaces), where  microbes can be either harmful, neutral or beneficial, and be leveraged in informing a design for smart and healthy living spaces.

Past Projects

Duke University building level pathogen surveillance

COVID-19 Wastewater Methods Dashboard

2020 - 2021 Bass Connections Smart Toilet Project