Associate Professor Joanne Macdonald
Menzies Health Institute Queensland Program Seminar Series
Infectious Diseases & Immunology
Presenter: Associate Professor Joanne Macdonald
Title: Rapid and sensitive detection of human and animal diseases for low-resource use
Point of care methods for rapid detection of diseases can be limited by accuracy, requiring centralised laboratory that can create critical delays in the treatment and management of infectious diseases outbreaks. My research group has identified and developed a low-resource molecular genetics testing workflow that enables accurate disease identification without any sophisticated equipment. Pathogens can be detected within raw samples (blood, tissue or swabs) in 20-40 minutes with similar sensitivity to laboratory-based molecular genetics tests (10-100 copies/µL). We have demonstrated this method can be applied generically for the detection of bacteria, parasites, and viruses, with high (>95%) diagnostic sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy. We have also developed multiplex technology to display disease identification in text without the requirement for electronic displays to interpret the results. The technology has broad implications for improving accessibility of diagnostics in regional and remote communities, and for rapid deployment during emergent disease outbreaks.
Joanne Macdonald is currently the Virology convenor for the Australian Society of Microbiology. She is an Associate Professor in Molecular Engineering at USC (Sunshine Coast campus, QLD), and co-founder of the diagnostics company BioCifer Pty. Ltd. Her research focuses on the rapid detection of infectious diseases as well as synthetic biology development of computing circuits made entirely of DNA molecules. Dr Macdonald also previously co-developed a cocaine antidote that was awarded breakthrough drug therapy by the FDA. She was awarded the Rose-Anne Kelso award for women by Life Sciences Queensland in 2016 for her achievements in translational research.
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