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June 2, 2022

MSU researcher receives $769K grant to develop rapid test for foodborne pathogens

A Michigan State University-led research team has received a $769,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to develop a rapid biosensor test for foodborne pathogens. The project is supported by NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

The rapid test will be used onsite at poultry farms and processing facilities to inspect large samples for Salmonella and Campylobacter, two common foodborne illness-causing bacteria.

Evangelyn Alocilja, a professor in the MSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, is leading the project. Alocilja, whose work is also supported by MSU AgBioResearch, is a world-renowned expert in rapid biosensing diagnostics for infectious and antimicrobial-resistant diseases, having developed such tests for tuberculosis, dengue and COVID-19.

According to the USDA Economic Research Service, the U.S. economic burden of Salmonella and Campylobacter from all sources exceeded $6 billion in 2018. Alocilja said previous studies have shown poultry products are one of the most common sources of infection due to bacterial contamination from farm production practices and processing equipment.

Currently, pathogen detection is achieved through traditional bacterial culturing, which is time-intensive and often impractical. Existing rapid tests are expensive and may necessitate trained personnel and a laboratory-style environment, exacerbating the need for an inexpensive and easy-to-use alternative.

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By: Cameron Rudolph