Published on New York State Department of Health, Wadsworth Center (

Biodefense - Research & 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