The ability to rapidly detect and respond to the intentional release of pathogens and toxins is vital in protecting the health and well-being of New Yorkers. The intentional release of Bacillus anthracis through the US Postal Service in 2001 highlighted the need for improved diagnostics in the field of Biodefense. Research at the Biodefense Laboratory focuses on the development of diagnostics for the detection of biothreat agents using platforms such as real-time PCR, DNA sequencing, and microsphere immunoassay and nucleic acid arrays.
Characterization and identification of biothreat agents is performed through analysis of multiple and varied sample types such as clinical specimens, food, water, powders, and other environmental samples. Often, these samples can be difficult to test and specialized protocols are necessary in order to perform nucleic acid testing. This work includes the development and validation of assays that can detect agents such as C. botulinum neurotoxins, Staphylococcal enterotoxins, Orthopoxviruses, Francisella tularensis, Brucella spp. Bacillus anthracis, Ricin toxin, and Yersinia pestis in different samples types in a multiplex format. Additional interests include the evaluation of biothreat samples.
In addition to serving as the Director of the Biodefence Laboratory at Wadsworth, Dr. Egan serves as Faculty Member and as the Director of Scientific Education, at the Wadsworth School of Laboratory Sciences.