CHEO and uOttawa researchers win COVID-19 Innovation Fund Award for wastewater monitoring project


Ottawa, Ontario — Thursday April 7, 2022

Congratulations to Dr. Alex MacKenzie, Dr. Tyson Graber and Dr. Robert Dellatolla on wining the Innovation Fund Provincial Oversight Committee (IFPOC) COVID-19 Innovation Fund-funded project award in the category of Public Health.

Here is an overview of the winning project:

This was a game-changing innovation when the study was initiated and has since achieved high impact and widespread implementation. This team (a physician, engineer and cellular biologist) implemented a multidisciplinary SARS CoV2 wastewater surveillance program, one of the first in North America. They were the first to report daily levels of viral RNA on a publicly accessible website. Since the project’s inception, wastewater surveillance has become a crucial marker of pandemic spread. The project has already expanded across the province and has provided critical data cited by local health authorities and the provincial government to justify various public health interventions over the past two years. The Ottawa initiative helped guide the formation of a $12 million province-wide Wastewater Surveillance Initiative in Fall 2020 led by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks. As of August 2021, all 34 public health units had joined the initiative with approximately 160 sampling locations covering over 80% of Ontarians. In addition, this approach has allowed the monitoring of individual facilities such as penitentiaries and long-term care facilities. The team lead the country in developing variant specific PCR assays. Efforts are now underway to apply this approach to respiratory syncytial virus, influenza and other pathogens. In addition, the team is developing techniques to measure viral proteins in the wastewater, which may be far more sensitive than measuring viral RNA.
(content provided by IFPOC)

Read Dr. Tyson Graber’s interview with the Ottawa Citizen on winning the award and the importance of the work his team is doing.

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