Cambridge, MA. – May 25, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has
selected Biobot Analytics to establish a national disease surveillance program, leveraging
wastewater epidemiology. In a twelve-week program, HHS will fund the collection and analysis of
samples from 320 wastewater treatment plants, covering 100 million people across 50 states and
territories, to gather data on the presence of COVID-19. This is a significant expansion to a
previous HHS-led wastewater epidemiology program, and will include genomic sequencing to
detect COVID-19 variants.
“With this contract, hundreds of local communities across the country will be able to leverage
data from wastewater to stay on top of COVID-19, especially as we move into later stages of the
pandemic and clinical testing ramps down,” said Newsha Ghaeli, President & Cofounder of
Biobot. “The inclusion of genomic sequencing will help monitor COVID-19 variants as they evolve
to measure the effectiveness of vaccination programs and other public health initiatives.” Ghaeli
is an architect and engineer with expertise in the development of novel urban technologies
Founded in 2017, Biobot is a spin-off from an MIT research project. The company’s vision is that
wastewater epidemiology becomes a permanent part of our sewage infrastructure and urban
fabric, and that data from sewage is continuously used to inform more inclusive and proactive
public health decision-making.
“Wastewater-based biosurveillance is a crucial tool to prevent future pandemics. Beyond
COVID-19, this technology can be expanded to monitor seasonal influenza outbreaks, and
proactively detect novel viral pathogens and antibiotic resistance. We are excited to share this
vision with HHS and partner to scale a solution to keep our country safe,” said Dr. Mariana Matus,
CEO & Cofounder of Biobot. Dr. Matus is a computational biologist who specialized in wastewater
epidemiology during her doctoral studies at MIT.
Participation in the HHS program is limited, and testing begins soon. Interested organizations can
register using this link.