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Research and Development


State-of-the-art diagnostic testing capabilities rely on the latest research findings and access to the latest technologies. This allows for the rapid application of novel concepts or emerging technologies to public health threats. Research conducted in the Biodefense Laboratory fosters collaboration with other scientists at Wadsworth Center and from institutions conducting related investigations, the primary goals of which are:

  • Maturation of technologies to reduce cost or improve performance
  • Development of novel diagnostic screening assays to supplant more hazardous diagnostic assays


The Biodefense Laboratory research scientists have unique training and experience that allow them to evaluate novel and emerging detection technologies and platforms. Many of the evaluation studies lead developers to refine their technology or begin the validation process. Evaluations conducted include:

  • Prototype evaluation of an All Hazards Receipt Facility (AHRF) for Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Homeland Security study on handheld detection devices
  • Third party evaluations for field deployable handheld detection platforms
    • Air Samples
    • Rapid PCR detection units
    • Handheld devices
  • Evaluation of rapid food screening assays as part of the Food Emergency Response Network


Wadsworth Center's unique facilities, resources and staff have attracted interest from developers of commercial diagnostic systems to validate their technologies against microorganisms that could be used as bioterrorist weapons (these microorganisms are called "select agents"). With the increasing restrictions on select agent use outlined in the Select Agent Rule (42CFR73) and the USA Patriot Act, there is a very limited pool of organizations that can participate in validation studies. The Biodefense Laboratory has the necessary permits and personnel to use these organisms for research on assay validation, such as the following:

  • Validation of a Mass Spectrometry method for the detection of Clostridium botulinum neurotoxin
  • Clinical FDA validation site for a rapid Anthrax diagnostic assay
  • Third party contract validation for field deployed handheld detection of B. anthracis and E. coli
  • Validation of environmental screening assays
  • Validation of food screening methods


  • E. Frye, C. Egan, M. Perry, E. Crouch, K. Burbank, K. Kelly. Outbreak of botulism type A in dairy cows detected by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation. 2020;32(5):722-726.10.1177/1040638720943127
  • Pubmed Web Address

  • M. Perry, M. Conlon, C. Egan. Utilization of Standard Method Performance Requirements for the Detection of Coxiella burnetii in Environmental Samples. Journal of AOAC International. 2020;10.1093/jaoacint/qsaa101
  • Read More

  • J. Halpin, J. Dykes, L. Katz, D. Centurioni, M. Perry, C. Egan, C. Luquez. Molecular Characterization of Clostridium botulinum Harboring the bont/B7 gene. Journal of Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. 2019;16(6):428-433.10.1089/fpd.2018.2600
  • Pubmed Web Address

  • G. Bergeron, J. Latash, C. Dacosta-Carter, C. Egan, F. Stavinsky, J. Kileci, A. Winstead, B. Zhao, M. Perry, K. Cahtham-Stephens, D. Sarpel, S. Hughes, M. Conlon, S. Edmunds, M. Monhanraj, J. Rakeman, D. Centurioni, C. Luquez, A. Chiefari, and S. Harper. Notes from the Field: Botulism Outbreak Associated with Home-Canned Peas - New York City, 2018. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2019;68(10):251-252.10.15585/mmwr.mm6810a5
  • Pubmed Web Address

  • N. Mishra, J. Ng, J. Rakeman, M. Perry, D. Centurioni, A. Price, R. Thakkar, A. Angus, P. Williamson, E. Delwart, C. Carrington, T. Briese, R. Tokarz, W. Lipkin. One-step pentaplex real-time polymerase chain reaction assay for detection of zika, dengue, chikungunya, and West nile viruses and a human housekeeping gene. Journal of Clinical Virology. 2019;12044-50.10.1016/j.jcv.2019.08.011
  • Pubmed Web Address

  • Perry MJ, Centurioni DA, Davis SW, Hannett GE, Musser KA, Egan CT. Implementing the Bruker MALDI Biotyper in the Public Health Laboratory for C. botulinum Neurotoxin Detection. Toxins (Basel). 2017;9(3):pii: E94.
  • Pubmed Web Address

  • J. Rudrik, M. Soehnlen, M. Perry, M. Sullivan, W. Reiter-Kintz, P. Lee, D. Pettit, A. Tran, and E. Swaney. Safety and Accuracy of Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption – Ionization Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry (MALDI – TOF MS) to Identify Highly Pathogenic Organisms. Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 2017;55(12):3513-3529.10.1128/JCM.01023-17
  • Pubmed Web Address

  • Perry MJ, Antenucci AJ, Kelly-Cirino C, Heyl M, Aldous K, Egan C. All Hazards Receipt Facility (AHRF) Testing Algorithm Modifications for Enhanced Screening and Safety. Journal of Bioterrorism and Biodefense. 2016;7(1):1-6.

  • Chiefari AK, Perry MJ, Kelly-Cirino C, Egan CT. Detection of Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin production genes from patient samples using an automated extraction platform and multiplex real-time PCR. Mol Cell Probes. 2015;29(6):461-467.
  • Pubmed Web Address

  • Zink SD, Van Slyke GA, Palumbo MJ, Kramer LD, Ciota AT. Exposure to West Nile Virus Increases Bacterial Diversity and Immune Gene Expression in Culex pipiens. Viruses. 2015;7(10):5619-31.10.3390/v7102886
  • Pubmed Web Address

  • Hannett GE, Schaffzin JK, Davis SW, Fage MP, Schoonmaker-Bopp D, Dumas N, Musser KA, Egan C. Two cases of adult botulism caused by botulism neurotoxin producing Clostridium baratii. Anaerobe. 2014;(30C):178-180.
  • Pubmed Web Address

  • Prusinski MA, White JL, Wong SJ, Conlon MA, Egan C, Kelly-Cirino CD, Laniewicz BR, Backenson PB, Nicholson WL, Eremeeva ME, Karpathy SE, Dasch GA, White DJ. Sylvatic typhus associated with flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) in New York State, USA. Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases. 2014;14(4):240-244.
  • Pubmed Web Address

  • Chai E, Choi E, Guitierrez C, Hochman M, Johnkutty S, Kamel W, Mekles T, Zarnegar R, Ackelsberg J, Balter S, Lee E.H, Li L, Ramos A, Rodriguez T, Weiss D, Yung J, Zhao B, Davis SW, Egan C, Hannett GE, Rao A, Toprani A, N. Sreenivasan. Foodborne Botulism Associated with Home-Fermented Tofu in Two Chinese Immigrants, New York City, March–April 2012. MMWR. 2013;62(26):529-532.
  • Read More

  • Egan, C, Kelly-Cirino, C. Applications of Real-Time PCR to Biothreat Analysis. In “Real-time PCR: Advanced Technologies and Applications” (N. Saunders and M. Lee Eds). Caister Academic Press. 2013;