Dr Zhugen Yang is faculty member at Cranfield University (UK), heading up Cranfield Advanced Sensors Laboratory funded by UKCRIC. He received a prestigious UK NERC Fellowship in 2018 to start his independent academic career as a Lecturer at the University of Glasgow. His group is developing low-cost and point-of-use sensors (e.g., paper-origami device) for environmental science (e.g., microbial contamination and source tracking, AMR), public health (e.g. drug of abuse, COVID-19 for wastewater epidemiology), and biomedical diagnostics (e.g. infectious disease). He is recently involved UK national wastewater epidemiology surveillance programme (N-WESP) for COVID-19. He has authored over 60 peer-reviewed articles (such as PNAS, Anal Chem, ES&T, Water Res). He serves as editor of special issue on Biosensors for Wastewater at “TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry” (IF 12.3), and editor of the book on Comprehensive Analytical Chemistry (Elsevier), as well as Associate editor and advisory member of several international journals. His recent work has been featured in Science magazine, and widely reported by public media including BBC news/television, Washington Post, Daily Mail etc.
Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE)has emerged as a powerful tool for early warning public health. However, it remains challenging for analysis of wastewater in particular for rapid and on-site detection, which is a highly demand for track down the infections. Rapid sensors are of significant importance for both chemicals (e.g. illicit drugs) and microbial analysis in wastewater (e.g. infection including SARS-CoV-2 for early warning of a pandemic). Here we present a low-cost, deployable paper-based biosensor device for rapid analysis of chemicals and pathogens for WBE. Following the demonstration of the paper-based device for field-testing of infectious in Indian local farm and for malaria testing in a primary school in Uganda in Africa, we will further show this device for the rapid analysis of pathogen in water and wastewater in a low resource setting (e.g., in quarantine hotel around London Heathrow airport). The device utilised a paper microfluidic for sample preparation and extract nucleic acid from various wastewater samples, followed by isothermal amplification for species-specific pathogen detection with a visual dye for rapid readout. This enables to capture images with a mobile phone camera for a semi-quantification. This device is currently developing to trace the source of SARS-CoV-2 in a local treatment plant and other near source tracking for early warning of the pandemic, within the frame of a UK national wastewater epidemiology surveillance programme (N-WESP) for COVID-19.