CBE Response to COVID-19
Messages from the Director
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a fluid situation. I am confident that, although serious, we will get through this health crisis. Montana State University started the fall 2020 semester two weeks early to allow for the semester to end before the Thanksgiving holiday, eliminating back-and-forth travel for students. CBE labs are open, and faculty, staff, and students are conducting research and doing their part to minimize human-to-human contact by social distancing, wearing masks, and working split shifts. The situation is ever-changing and continually being monitored. We look forward to getting back to face-to-face interactions with our colleagues as well as our members, whose support we greatly appreciate in this unprecedented time.
October 26, 2020
I am pleased to report that CBE affiliate faculty member Dr. Connie Chang, assistant professor in chemical and biological engineering, is part of an MSU team that received funding from the CARES Act to optimize a potential Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) test for asymptomatic COVID virus detection. Connie is also developing a LAMP test that can simulaneously test for the influenza virus. Read more about this testing capability
Additionally, CBE's Medical Biofilms Lab is testing new surface disinfectants that specifically target a surrogate coronavirus. Dr. Garth James, PI, should be able to report their findings in the coming weeks and we'll keep members posted of Garth's report.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions related to the above items or any research inquiry.
Thank you for your continued support.
September 10, 2020
We’d initially hoped that an in-person regulatory meeting would be possible, but with the current conditions, and projections for the future of the pandemic, we’re going to produce the meeting virtually, as we did with the recent summer meeting. The meeting will take place February 2-3, 2021 and Paul is currently working on the sessions and agenda. Presentations will focus on how science helps support industry in bringing biofilm-related products through the development stages to market. There will also be time given for panel discussions and engagement. We'll have speakers and panel members from industry, acedemia, and regulatory agencies. Look out for pre-event engagement such as speaker spotlights and surveys to inform presentations and the panel session. Registration will open in November. Thank you for our continued support and don't hesitate to reach out to me or Paul Sturman about research or the membership program.
Professor, MSU Microbiology and Immunology
May 12, 2020
After careful consideration of the current travel situation and likely continuation of COVID-related travel and social distancing restrictions into the summer months, we have decided to move our summer Montana Biofilm Meeting to a virtual format. As one of our primary means of interaction with our industry supporters, we don’t take this decision lightly. The meeting will still feature presentations by CBE faculty, staff and students as well as outside speakers, and will take place during the scheduled time—July 14–16, but will be abbreviated from our normal format. Sessions will convene on the mornings of each day, featuring 25-30 minute presentations to be delivered via Webex. Each presentation will feature live Q/A sessions, and the presentations will be archived on our member website for later viewing by representatives of our member companies, if live participation is not possible. We will be developing the agenda for the sessions over the next few weeks, and will make this available as soon as we can.
While we understand that an online meeting can’t have the same level of contact as the in-person meeting, we are confident that we can still give our members useful information about what’s going on the world of biofilm research, both here at the CBE and elsewhere. Thank you for your understanding during this difficult time, and for your continued support.
Professor, MSU Microbiology and Immunology
April 16, 2020
Dear Valued Members,
I hope you are doing well and staying healthy. While MSU and CBE laboratories remain largely on a hiatus due to a statewide shelter-in-place, I would like to keep you up-to-date on our summer meeting plans, paths on research, and our availability for consultation with industry.
Summer Montana Biofilm Meeting
Although we plan to make a decision about the meeting by mid-May, we are exploring alternatives in the event that we must postpone or re-organize the meeting. We are considering hosting a series of webinars during the summer to showcase ongoing CBE research as well as perhaps some external presenters. We are considering both research-based presentations as well as workshop-type presentations, offering a mix of fundamental and applied science. Understanding that it can be a challenge to set aside large blocks of time during any one day, we’re thinking of spreading these out over a few weeks, with each presentation being an hour or less, with time for Q & A. The presentations would be archived on the CBE website for later viewing by our industrial associates as well. We would like to get your input on dates and timing that would work best for your schedule so please reach out to Paul Sturman.
CBE Ongoing Research
While we are anxious to continue our current research directions and projects once we can safely return to the labs, we are also now exploring options for how the CBE can contribute to the current and on-going challenges with communicable agents such as SARS-CoV-2 (as many individuals and companies around the country). We think there are both direct and indirect ways to contribute solutions to some of the most pressing challenges, and certainly, would be strengthened through industrial partnerships. In fact, many current fast-track funding opportunities require cost-share, and if interested, please let us know. Anything from standardization of methods for viricide efficacy and decon, to novel diagnostics and surveillance, to potential roles of biofilms in viral survivability in, on and outside the human body. In addition, MSU is responding to the crisis through the development of some laboratory resources, including modifications to the BSL3 laboratory to handle SARS-CoV-2 in the microbiology department. This investment will provide the capability to produce virus particles for research and development.
Consider us a resource and potential partner. Contact me if you have ideas for projects or potential products that could be explored and/or tested.
Opportunities for Consultation with Industry
Although our labs are temporarily quiet, our staff remain committed to helping industry. We are available for consultation and brainstorming sessions and are very willing to engage in virtual meetings to go over any biofilm related issue or idea. MSU’s office staff are still working remotely and we can get an NDA in place quickly if need be. Contact Paul Sturman about consulting.
As always, we appreciate your continued support and look forward to working with you during and after this crisis (and being able to meet in person!).
Professor, Microbiology and Immunology
Regulatory Research Professor