The Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab was recently awarded a nearly $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to help refine the use of high-volume testing methods.

The project was funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to prepare for future disease outbreaks. Researchers will ensure that the novel high-volume testing methods are accurate and can integrate with existing systems to track and report test results.

Iowa State’s lab has tested the SmartChip qPCR testing technology, which includes a plate that can hold more than 5,000 samples needing diagnostic testing. Rahul Nelli, a research assistant professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine, said this technology in combination with a separate 384-sample system that can run 24 hours a day with limited staffing due to some automated features would increase the lab’s molecular diagnostic testing capacity.

“The historical patterns of pathogens are changing, so we need to be prepared for risks we haven’t seen before. Having this high-throughput capability will allow us to meet industry needs, providing more cost-efficient diagnostic tests as the need for testing grows,” Nelli said.

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