Senior Research Associate Corteva Agriscience, Iowa, United States
Shortly after the pandemic began, conventional clinical laboratories were overwhelmed by testing volumes, limiting the availability of COVID-19 tests. Corteva Agriscience quickly engaged by implementing and operating a CLIA COVID-19 diagnostics lab to support the testing needs of local hospitals, universities, and sports teams. With molecular testing supply chains stressed and the low throughput of commercially available tests, it was clear that custom solutions were needed to meet demand. Utilizing its world-class expertise in high-throughput-molecular testing platforms, we partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to develop an end-to-end ultra-high-throughput testing platform. The resulting workflow enables testing of up to 100,000 specimens per day at a single site with low cost, high sensitivity, minimal staffing, reduced reagent needs, and less lab waste. Achieving a platform that met all the desired specifications was no small task, requiring the development of numerous custom chemistries, information management, and engineering solutions. The key innovation came from Corteva and a group of collaborators in the form of a novel collection device that enables rapid accessioning, extraction-free processing, and an automation-ready workflow including newly engineered de-plugging and re-plugging and decapping automation.