The risk posed by unknown bacteria is increasing as the global environment changes, populations expand, and tools for genetic engineering proliferate. After new pathogens emerge, they can easily spread due to increased global travel among dense urban centers. Any one of these unfamiliar strains might pose a health risk to deployed service members—especially among first responders to outbreaks of infectious disease.
We are helping to create a system to rapidly detect bacteria that are potential pathogens in our environment. The goal of iSENTRY is to bring about a revolutionary advance in the science, devices, and systems needed for the isolation and characterization of known and potentially unknown or unculturable bacterial pathogens.
Current detection strategies based on biochemical markers have limited utility in assessing the threat associated with undiscovered bacteria or bacteria designed to evade detection. Moreover, sequencing and omics analyses have limited utility when pathogenic features cannot be ascertained from bacterial genotypes alone. iSENTRY integrates innovations in environmental microbiology, high-throughput droplet microfluidics, DNA barcoding, single-cell droplet sequencing, and machine learning/computational biology, representing a revolutionary advance in the science, devices, and systems needed for the isolation and characterization of known and potentially unknown or unculturable bacterial pathogens.