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Challenges in the Diagnosis of Respiratory Tract Infection (and the Inseparability of Clinical Care and Public Health)

Wyss EventLecture

Diagnostics Grand Rounds

Diagnostics Grand Rounds brings clinicians with unmet needs to the Wyss Institute. The goal of these sessions is to inform technology developers about important clinical problems that can help them direct their technology development efforts. Presenters are asked to identify diagnostic needs that will have an impact on the quality of care they deliver.

Lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality around the world. It is also one of the most challenging infectious diagnoses to make as symptoms are non-specific for the etiologic agent, occur in body sites distal to the areas amenable for diagnostic sampling and are surrounded by endogenous flora, and have a wide spectrum of clinical presentations from asymptomatic infection to full-blown respiratory failure. More than most other infectious syndromes, early diagnosis is critical for preventing widespread transmission to susceptible hosts via droplets and aerosols.

In this talk, Sanjat Kanjilal, MD, MPH, will discuss some of these challenges in detail and then break down the primary problem of how to rapidly and accurately diagnose LRTI into a set of smaller, better-defined problems, with an aim towards stimulating open discussion on novel approaches that account for host-pathogen biology, epidemiology, and deployment in real-world settings. While a universal solution to LRTI diagnosis is impractical, designs that appreciate the syndrome’s multi-scale interactions are the ones that are the most likely to succeed.

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