13-14 December 2021, Canberra
Senior Research Scientist, Virology Microbiology, Microbial Sciences, Pests and Diseases, Agriculture Victoria Research, Centre for AgriBioscience
Dr Stacey Lynch is a Senior Research Scientist, Agriculture Victoria Research, based at AgriBio, the Centre for AgriBioscience. Her primary focus is to deliver applied scientific outcomes through viral diagnostics and pathogen surveillance.
Specific diagnostic and surveillance activities include, the development and implementation of in-field molecular methods for African swine fever virus and foot and mouth disease virus, and surveillance activities of avian influenza in wild birds and pathogens in mosquitoes (such as Ross River virus, Murray Valley encephalitis virus and Mycobacterium ulcerans). Key areas of research use genomic tools to enhance traditional significant animal investigations and surveillance programs.
Stacey regularly provides lectures in a range of undergraduate and post-graduate courses through the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences and has co-supervised a number of research students from La Trobe University (School of Applied Systems Biology), The University of Melbourne, The University of Liverpool and the International Livestock and Research Institute, Ethiopia.
Effective biosecurity is underpinned by rapid pathogen detection within an evidenced based testing framework and supported by a quality management system. Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) is a molecular diagnostics platform that detects the genome of a pathogen. The LAMP enzyme is more resistant to inhibitors, so the pathogen nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) doesn’t need to be purified, enabling detection directly from the sample. This makes LAMP different from other molecular tests, and a robustness that allows LAMP to be used in resource limiting settings, be field-deployable and used as a point-of-care tool.
Agriculture Victoria, with the support of colleagues from the Asia-Pacific region including Timor-Leste and Bhutan, have been developing and verifying LAMP assays for foot and mouth disease virus (FMDV) and African swine fever virus (ASFV). These two pathogens affect food production systems, animals of cultural importance in the region and if detected in Australia, within our borders.
We are developing an advanced quality management system to support the adoption and implementation of this emerging technology. Specifically, our research is determining the best in-field sample type for FMDV and ASFV, accrues verification data obtained through ongoing quality control and virtual communication and is establishing a proficiency testing program to assess the reagents and operators. The establishment of a sample and data management framework will support confirmatory testing for these significant pathogens, as required.